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Today is the 7th Anniversary of “9/11”. It is also the 2nd Anniversary of the day I found THESE guys under the hood of my car:

The Mob

And as I type this, Hurricane Ike is preparing to ruin my weekend (let’s just hope that’s ALL it does). So there is a better than odds-on chance you won’t be seeing any new posts to Mugsy’s Rap Sheet, or updates to the “Master List of McCain Flip-Flops” (now offline) over the next few days. Just a heads up.

During her VP Acceptance Speech, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin never once mentioned her extreme positions on social issues, instead using her moment in the spotlight to spew a tidalwave of snarkiness towards her Democratic opponents… and perpetuate the lies that make up her minuscule political resume’. Why didn’t McCain’s hard-Right Evangelical wildcard mention even once that she is (was?) a member of the ultra-Conservative “Feminists for Life”, which not only calls birth control “abortifacient contraception”, but opposes abortion even in the generally accepted exceptions of “rape & incest” (her position on abortion to protect the “life of the mother” is a bit murky) that even most pro-life advocates support? And why didn’t she mention that she believed U.S. troops in Iraq “are on a task from God”? And, of course, why didn’t she mention that she supports hunting down wolf pups from a helicopter using a high-powered rifle? (to be fair, she only authorized their parents to be shot from the air, after which the pups were forcibly dragged from their den and shot in the head at close range.)

Because the bulk of the viewing public would have turned on her in a heartbeat, seeing her for the extremist Right-Wing lunatic that she is, that’s why.

Since Senator McCain’s big VP announcement nearly two weeks ago, the McCain camp has not permitted a single one-on-one interview with Palin. She’s an unknown quantity. An empty glass that people are filling with any image of her that they prefer. And until she destroys that image by opening her mouth and answering a few lingering questions, she remains an unknown quantity that even a few brain-dead disaffected Hillary supporters can get behind (one HAS to wonder what any Hillary supporter could possibly see in Palin that speaks to them? Personally, I don’t believe poll numbers of people claiming to be Hillary Democrats for Palin. More likely, it is Republicans that liked Hillary more than McCain, that were drawn back by the Palin pick). But the McCain campaign can’t keep her in a bubble forever.

Senator McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis had the audacity to assert on Fox “news” Sunday that Palin would not be giving interviews “until we feel like the news media is going to treat her with some level of respect and deference.”

Excuse Me? You’ve giving the American people just 60 days to learn everything there is to know about someone in the position to be President of the United States and your DICTATING to us whether or not we actually get to interview her??? The fact no one appears to be outraged by that statement is disturbing.

The McCain campaign *did* pick their own venue for Palin’s first interview. After criticism for not appearing on a single Sunday show the weekend after the RNC Convention, they *magnanimously* announced that Palin would “consent” to a softball interview conducted by ABC everyman Charlie Gibson. Demanding Gibson conduct the interview assures three things, one, that no follow-up questions will be asked when caught in a lie because Gibson is unlikely to know a lie when he hears one. Two, while he is likely to ask some of the “nagging” questions that have been circulating in the blog-o-sphere lately, he won’t have any questions she hasn’t had a week to prepare for, and is unlikely to ask any vitally important questions at all (I’ll be SHOCKED if Gibson even mentions the name Joe Vogler). And three, that the interview will take place in Prime Time with the largest possible viewing audience (vs. appearing on a lowly Sunday morning show with fewer viewers). For all the whining McCain made over any perceived disadvantage to Obama by opting out of public financing, they sure seem to have learned how to scam the system, making outrageous claims that then get picked up and repeated on the network news shows for weeks for free, which then forces the Obama campaign to spend its own money to respond to those claims nationwide. And now picking a VP running mate that is SO extreme and SO unqualified that they can dictate to the press who gets to talk to her and when (for maximum coverage), THEN have the nerve to play “the victim” and claim “Senator Obama is receiving more airtime”. It’s enough to make a Billygoat puke.

If Gibson’s performance in the deplorable Hillary/Obama debate last April where they spent the first 45 minutes talking about “flag pins” and whether voters are “bitter” is any indication, any chance of Palin’s first interview revealing anything significant are as close to zero as George Bush’s score on an European History exam.

And while the McCain campaign is dictating who, when & where Palin’s interviewed, they also haven’t let her out of their sight, with McCain and Palin only appearing together, never apart since the Convention, in rallies across the country. Palin never grants interviews or accepts questions (with the exception of a few softballs from People Magazine). Everywhere they go together, they draw huge crowds. She has energized the far Right Wingnuttia and (arguably) is more popular than McCain himself. It would be a major embarrassment for the McCain campaign if he were to appear without her and draw a tiny crowd of maybe 500, only to have Palin appear on her own and draw a crowd of 2,000. So the two never appear apart. And when Palin does appear, all she does is repeat the professionally scripted “zingers” from her RNC acceptance speech over, and over, and over, and over… that’s going to get old REAL fast.

But they can’t keep Palin super-glued at the hip with McCain forever. Soon, Palin will start having to grant interviews, answer some difficult questions, and show off that wading-pool deep political knowledge she’s amassed in her 20 months as governor of the 47th least populous state, then watch her approval rating plunge. If she continues to lie about her record (as we now know she has), soon it will catch up to her as she’s labeled either “untrustworthy”, “ignorant” or “deep in denial”; none of which are good. Or she can concede that her record as a “reformer” is a total lie, which not only destroys the McCain campaign’s total justification for choosing her, but proves once and for all that she was not thoroughly vetted before being tapped for VP like McCain has insisted all along. The first time she is forced to “go off script” and starts answering questions on her own about her far-Right positions on issues, say bye-bye to “the Palin Bounce”.

And that’s before she even meets up with Joe Biden for the VP debate in October.

Picking Palin was “Stunt #1”.

“Stunt #2” is on the horizon. Earlier this week, the Bush Administration sent armed forces into the Waziristan region of Pakistan, a protected region on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border where al Qaeda is believed to be hiding. Despite Bush’s claim “we will not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor them”, for seven years, the Bush Administration has called Pakistan “friend” for giving us “fly-over rights” into Afghanistan after 9/11. But Pakistani President Pervez Musharif drew the line at allowing U.S. troops into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden in the border region. Then suddenly, quite recently, Musharif was forced out of office in a violent and bloody election that claimed the life of his chief opponent, Benazir Bhutto. Despite securing his “re-election”, he was so unpopular, he was forced to step down as President, and was replaced with a man that supports the U.S. government and going after al Qaeda, has sent Pakistani troops into Waziristan himself in recent days, and apparently doesn’t mind if Bush does too.

It is almost comically obvious that the Bush Administration is eager to spring an “October Surprise”, with the capture of Osama bin Laden in time for the election. After seven years of failure, it’s all they’ve got left. The Republicans can’t win on “the economy”, “jobs”, “health care”, “energy prices” or the “environment”, what’s left for them to run on? “Keeping you safe from the blue meanies from Islamistan”. And what better way to show the American people that they are worthy of re-election than to capture the object of their fears for the past seven years to make them feel safer?

Then what?

Even if they do capture OBL (which is unlikely), just how would it affect the election? Announcing his capture a week before the election would look mighty suspicious to most voters. Would everybody simply cheer and praise Bush for this “great achievement”, or are people more likely to ask, “What took you so long? It’s been over seven years, and suddenly, just as you’re heading out the door and just in time for the election, you’re able to capture bin Laden in the space of a couple of days? Did you just need some motivation? You couldn’t catch him after all this time, pulling his name out every election year to frighten us in some Pavlovian mind-f**k, and then suddenly in the space of a couple of weeks, you’re able to track him down and capture him? What’s wrong with this picture?

And then, with OBL captured, much of McCain’s “Commander-in-Chief in these dangerous times” advantage goes right out the window. Oh sure they’ll remind us at every waking opportunity that nameless/faceless al Qaeda “is still out there”, but it’s harder for people to get as worked up over a threat without a face. And trying to minimize the importance of OBL’s influence to play up the continuing threat of al Qaeda would counter any advantage his capture could have on McCain’s poll numbers.

And that’s all the Republicans have left at this point: cheap political stunts that are destined to fail as sure as the Swallows will return to Capistrano. These next few weeks are going to be interesting. Very interesting indeed.