Friday, July 15, 2011

It's official: SarahPac paid for Palin family personal vacation!

According to National Park Service Director John Jarvis, Palin's stop at places like Gettysburg National Military Park, during her recent "bus tour," was a "personal, family visit," according to Palin's staff. That's straight from the horse's mouth, Palin's staff!

When Piper Palin told a Time magazine reporter, “Thanks for ruining our vacation,” she wasn't kidding.

Now, it's official. According to CBS News:
While the tour was billed as a "family" trip, Palin's political action committee SaraPAC spent tens of thousands of dollars on it, according to the PAC's Thursday filing with the Federal Election Commission. As much as $13,700 was spent just on wrapping the "One Nation" bus with images of the Constitution and the American flag. The PAC also spent thousands of dollars for hotels, flights and rental cars on dates surrounding the trip. ...

... Derek Schlickeisen, a spokesperson for [Oregon Representative Earl] Blumenauer, who had "questioned whether federal resources were improperly used for Palin's "partisan, political tour," said the congressman appreciated receiving the Park Service's reply and that his office would "leave it to others to decide whether they think a family vacation paid for by a federal PAC is appropriate."
I don't know what "others" think, but I think Sarah Palin's supporters are fools for donating to SarahPac. Can't Sarah Palin afford to pay for a vacation on her own?

Anyway, we now know that the bus tour must really be over. Don't all vacations end? Like Real Americans' vacations end?

Aha! Someone sees Sarah Palin's movie and sees through her transparent playbook

New York magazine writes, in "Movie Review: Sarah Palin Looks Defeatable in The Undefeated:"
Given that The Undefeated is a clamorous, two-hour political infomercial for Sarah Palin and her (to my mind, inevitable) presidential run, I have to ask: Why, since the film is scheduled to open only in Palin-friendly cities like Dallas, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and San Diego, was it specially screened for critics like me in NYC and L.A.? My guess is that we’re looking at a twofold strategy born of desperation. First, reviews in major publications will force Palin back into the conversation of coastal “elites,” now spending all their time mulling over Michele Bachmann and her swishy homophobic husband. Second, our presumed ridicule will be red meat for Palin loyalists, paid and unpaid, who’ll be spurred to come together yet again in the face of a common enemy. ...

... This is, of course, the playbook that Palin has been using — by design or instinct or, more likely, both — since she burst onto the Wasilla scene, riling up the mob against those who oppose her decency and authenticity and the way she stands up for “ordinary workin’ folks.” ...
Yes, there is something undignifed in writing -- even reading -- about Sarah Palin. We are being used.

Some other reviews are out, today, too:
Time magazine's "The Undefeated: Her Holiness Sarah Palin;"

The Atlantic's "Sarah Palin's 'The Undefeated': Bad Propaganda, Worse Filmmaking;"

and The Atlantic's "Sarah Palin Movie Debuts to Empty Theater in Orange County."
Harry Potter gets more attention than Sarah Palin in conservative Orange County! Who could have known?

Update: MOVIE|LINE has "Empty Theaters, 0% Positive Reviews Greet Sarah Palin Documentary."

Update: The N.Y. Daily News has "In some cities, it's Bellatrix Lestrange versus... Sarah Palin."

Update: MTV has "'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2': The Reviews Are In!"

The last word comes from The L.A. Times' "Sarah Palin documentary 'The Undefeated' opens in Orange County; three pay to attend:"
... Right before the Palin doc at the Block started Thursday night, two giggling sisters planning on going to Disneyland in the morning arrived in Friedersdorf's theater.

"We looked online for the latest movie playing," one of the sisters told him. "But all the Harry Potters were sold out, and then we saw 'The Undefeated.' We don't even actually know what we're seeing."

Soon after the film started the sisters, like Palin when she was governor of Alaska, left early.

Never say never: How Republicans put themselves into a box

Republicans aren't negotiating to solve the debt crisis.
This animated cartoon by The Washington Post's Ann Telnaes may illustrate their fate:

The difficulty for many Republicans arises from their loyalty to Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a group headed by Grover Norquist, who once said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Most Republicans have traded their responsibilites to their constituents for loyalty to Norquist and ATR. Brian Rosenberg, writing in The Minneapolis Star Tribune, had this to say about ATR and Norquist, in part:
The most powerful figure in today's Republican Party is not John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. It is not Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan. It is not even Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin.

It is, of course, Grover Norquist, the man with The Pledge.

Norquist, who has never held elected office, is the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, a group whose pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstances has now been signed by hundreds of Republican candidates and officials at both state and national levels.

And they do mean "any circumstances." Enormous budget deficits? No. A country at war? Nope. Famine and plague? Sorry.

Our grandmothers kidnapped and threatened with death until and unless we raise taxes, as Norquist was asked recently by Stephen Colbert? Well, answered the unflappable Norquist, we always have our memories and our photographs

(Colbert was being characteristically satiric. There appeared to be nothing satiric about the response.)
Rosenberg then asks a simple question:
Americans for Tax Reform asks every candidate for elected office on the state or federal level to make a written commitment to their constituents to "oppose and vote against all tax increases."

Every member of Congress, upon taking office, is asked to swear an oath to "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter."

Here is my simple question: Which "pledge" takes precedence?

Brian Rosenberg is President of Macalester college, and his complete article is "Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge undermines democracy."

After realizing what the Reublicans' no-tax pledge is doing to the country, many papers are now editorializing against dangerous, foolish pledges. An editorial in USA Today, "Our view: Candidates who sign pledges outsource their brains," about pledges in general, closes with:
Whether they come from the right or the left, these sorts of pledges are recipes for gridlock, such as the current standoff over raising the national debt ceiling. The vows stop politicians from working out compromises with colleagues who disagree with them. Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?

Elected officials owe their allegiance to their constituents and the Constitution, not interest groups bearing pledges. The only pledge we'd like candidates to endorse is simple: Don't sign any pledges.
A Michael Gerson opinion in The Washington Post, "The danger in political pledges," states, in part:
The imposition of oaths beyond the Constitution also assumes a certain theory of representation — the belief that politicians are merely mechanisms for the expression of public sentiment. They are, in this view, computers to be pre-programmed for desired outcomes. When Edmund Burke was presented with a similar argument, he agreed that the opinions of constituents “ought to have great weight” with a representative. “But his unbiased opinion,” Burke continued, “his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living.” This exercise of judgment, he argued, is not consistent with “authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience.”
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, writing in The Washington Post, said, in part, after Republicans withdrew from talks with Vice President Biden, late last month:
It is now clear that the Republican strategy is to drive America to the brink of fiscal ruin and then argue that the only way out is to cut spending for the powerless. Taxes — a dirty word thanks to Norquist’s “no new taxes” gimmick — are made to seem beyond the pale, even as the burden of paying for our society shifts disproportionately to the middle class and working poor. It is the height of fiscal folly. It is also not who we are as a country.
It is the height of fiscal folly, because it ignores one-half of this simple equation: expenditures = X multiplied by revenues, where 'X' may be a fraction, one, or larger than one. Republican attempts to solve the problem by ignoring the right-hand side of that equation, by refusing to increase revenues, give away their ignorance and innumeracy. Many Americans know what Republican tax policy has done to our society -- they experience its effect through stagnant wages, spiraling healthcare and education costs, unemployment, and crumbling infrastructure -- even if they haven't yet connected cause and effect. Should Congress allow society to further deteriorate to satisfy a pledge to Grover Norquist?

Republicans' fealty to Norquist is a syptom of their inability to think outside the box, their lack of ideas, their inability to negotiate -- in short, their political immaturity. By surrendering their minds to Norquist, they don't have to think, don't have to debate, and don't have to compromise, anymore. They have made themselves unfit to live in a democracy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Obama 2012 Unbeatable

If fundraising prowess is any indication -- it usually is -- then President Obama is headed for re-election. From Reuters' "Obama 2012 campaign breaks cash goal, records:"

President Barack Obama raised a record-shattering $86 million for his re-election campaign from April to June, exceeding a $60 million quarterly target and easily eclipsing all Republican challengers.

Small donations drove that massive cash collection in the second quarter -- 98 percent of donations were $250 or less, with an average donation of around $69, campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video to supporters on Wednesday.

Obama's campaign said it received donations from more than 552,000 people and said it had "more grass-roots support at this point in the process than any campaign in political history."

The figures underscore just how strong an incumbent Obama is despite persistent worries among voters about the U.S. economy and unemployment and criticism from other Democrats that he has shifted right over the last few years.

"They have smashed all records," said Chris Arterton, a political management professor at George Washington University. "I think it is quite dramatic." ...

The small donor participation is especially good news.

One reason that a lot of Republicans more credible than Palin and Bachmann have announced that they won't run is that they know that is very difficult to unseat an incumbent President.

Will Rupert Murdoch's media empire suddenly collapse or slowly slither away?

From CNN:

The phone-hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch's media empire intensified in the United States Wednesday as a veteran senator urged the Justice Department to investigate whether one of Murdoch's U.S.-based companies violated federal anti-bribery laws.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking Holder to look into concerns that News Corp. -- the parent company of Fox News -- violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, known as the FCPA. The law, enacted in 1977, makes it illegal for a U.S. person or company to pay foreign officials to obtain or retain business. ...

This is very big news and comes after two other important stories appeared this morning: "Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. drops bid for BSkyB," and "It pays to be Murdoch: Just ask the U.S. government."

As you probably know, News Corps' troubles in Britain began with public and government outrage following the disclosure that a thirteen year-old murdered girl's voicemail had been hacked by News Corps' employees.

For more information about the bribery allegations in Britain and U.S. law, see "News Corp may face US probe over bribery."

A NY Times story of this morning, "In Retreat, Murdoch Drops TV Takeover," is also informative.

Apparently, markets, too, have had it: "Hands Off News Corp. Stock as Scandal Widens."

Murdoch's News Corporation also owns Fox News, which is the subject of Senator Lautenberg's request to Attorney General Holder.

Fox News employs Sarah Palin.

Talk of barring News Corp. from owning any media in Britain. From Bloomberg:

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWSA) needs to do more to atone for misdeeds at his newspapers, lawmakers said after the company dropped its bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. (BSY)

Labour Party lawmaker Chris Bryant said the New York-based company should be barred from owning any media in Britain unless its non-executive directors can prove they took steps to combat practices that triggered what Prime Minister David Cameron called a “firestorm.” ...

Update: The Bancroft family regrets its sale of The Wall Street Journal to Murdoch: "Former Wall St Journal owners: 'We wouldn't have sold if we had known'."

Update: The author of "It pays to be Murdoch: Just ask the U.S. government," above, is now peeling his skin back with "How I misread News Corp's taxes: David Cay Johnston."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sarah Palin may win this election

From The L.A. Times' Top of the Ticket column, in part:

Sarah Palin
is the subject of a new film that opens Friday. John Wilson, the founder of the Golden Raspberry Awards, which annually recognize the worst movies of the year, seemingly can't wait for "The Undefeated."

"She's the political equivalent of what the Razzies are all about and she's hysterically funny if you don't stop and think, 'Oh, my God, she could've been vice president!' " John Wilson told Tom O'Neil at the Awards Tracker blog.

Past winners of Razzies for "worst actress" include such luminaries as Pia Zadora, Bo Derek and the Spice Girls.

"Sarah Palin exhibits ineptitude and an indefensible grasping after other people's ideas, calling them her own. Just like Hollywood filmmakers who can't make an original movie. She wants you to put on rose-colored glasses instead of 3-D glasses, but there is still a surcharge you should not pay," Wilson quipped. ...

... Sound like a Razzie shoo-in? You betcha.

She's sure likin' that 'Idiot Queen' title, isn't she?

Fourteen reasons why Palin will run for president

Vanity Fair made-up seven reasons why Sarah Palin will run for President after Greta Van Susteren made-up gave seven reasons why Palin will run. So, we have fourteen reasons why she'll run. Aren't we lucky?
1. “she has never said no”

2. “she made a promise to Piper”

3. “she’s received an outpouring of Facebook and Twitter support”

4. “we have not heard much from her since her bus tour which makes me suspicious that she is gearing up”

5. “as the days go on, some of the declared Republican candidates are having a few troubles—whether it be a gaffe or troubles raising money”

6. “something something real Americans”

7. “I read in the Des Moines Register that there are Palin volunteers—not from a Palin organization—all over the ground in Iowa”

8. “the lease on the tour bus doesn’t expire until 2013 anyway”

9. “money”

10. “the reality show was a complete bust”

11. “there seems to be a media strategy”

12. “she has already gone through the media digging into her life”

13. “lost a bet”

14. “are there any signs she is not running other than that she is not physically in Iowa and has not declared a candidacy?”
It's good to see humor being used to swat down these "Sarah's running" stories.

If you're having any trouble distinguishing Van Susteren's reasons from Vanity Fair's, see Vanity Fair's "Seven Reasons Why Sarah Palin Is Running for President, According to Her Best Friend, Greta Van Susteren" to learn which are Van Susteren's reasons and which are Vanity Fair's.

Politico's "Van Susteren thinks Palin is in" has the reasons from Van Susteren's blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do you like peas? - UPDATED

President Obama, speaking of the rapidly approaching expiration of the government's ability to borrow, said that it is time to act, "Pull off the bandage, eat our peas." Interestingly, he said all leaders -- presumably the members of congress involved in the negotiations -- agree that default on the debt is not an option. The President also talked about shared sacrifice, and said that he would not kick the can down the road by signing a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling.

The ball is in the Republicans' court. Are they capable of leading? Or are they slaves to a failed idea?

Part of a long term solution to the debt crisis is to increase revenue. Personal and corporate tax rates are at historical lows, yet we have a floundering economy. To begin, revenues could be increased without raising taxes by simply eliminating the Bush tax cuts. And let's shore-up social security by raising the social security wage cap. Some people and some corporations aren't paying their fair share.

It's time, too, for Germany and Japan to start paying their fair share of their own defense costs. Our troops there are large, expensive vestiges of the occupation armies of a war that ended more than sixty years ago. South Korea, where a lot of troops are also stationed, is also capable of paying its fair share. Winding-down -- completely -- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would also reduce the need to borrow.

Those are my ideas. Others may have areas of spending that they would prefer to see cut, or may know of other ways to increase revenues. But let's share the burden fairly by requiring those with the ability to pay to pay their fair share, and let's face facts: a deficit is caused by a shortfall in revenues and excessive spending, and any "plan" that ignores either of those sides of the equation is doomed to failure.

Update: There is an interesting Wall Street Journal article that looks at the President's strategy. The article sums up, "[Obama's] talking points practically write themselves: I offered three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in tax increases, and Republicans turned me down. Because Republican leaders wouldn't accept any tax increases, everybody will pay more for Medicare and Social Security and get less in benefits down the road."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sarah Palin does a photoshoot

Here, we see Sarah Palin playing hide-and-seek. I'm not sure whether she's hiding or seeking, but surely she's cheating.

Sarah Palin did a photoshoot -- eight pictures -- for Newsweek, but the pictures are at The Daily Beast. The photographer is Emily Shur.

The photoshoot was done for a Newsweek cover story by Peter J. Boyer: "Palin Plots Her Next Move."

In Newsweek's story, Palin says that she believes she can win national office. Apparently, the story's writer didn't ask her, "Which office?" Of course, that is a "gotcha" question. "Any of 'em -- all of 'em," is the standard answer to a question like that, so I suppose he didn't really need to ask.

Update: The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart has written "Sarah Palin as Newsweek cover girl — again."

Update: The Christian Science Monitor writes that Palin doesn't look presidential:
What’s striking about the Newsweek feature is the photographs – not just the cover, but the two-page inside shot of Palin standing in a field of flowers, hair down, wearing a pink hoodie, hands in the pockets of loose-fitting work pants. It’s the Garden of Sarah.

Maybe the photos are Palin’s way of saying, “I’m not running.” Time was when a politically ambitious woman would agree to be photographed only looking “dressed for success” – usually in a suit, à la Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Newsweek cover earlier this year. Or the way Palin usually dresses on Fox News. But in this latest iteration, the vibe is more “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” than “West Wing.”

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What 'The Undefeated' left out

Roger Moore of The Orlando Sentinel writes movie reviews in a column titled, "Frankly my dear." He's seen Sarah Palin's "The Undefeated," and he noticed that the movie left out quite a lot:
... Conservative documentarian Stephen K. Bannon (“Generation Zero”) makes a persuasive case that Palin was a more accomplished governor than the national media has ever let on and that she’s more of a “maverick” than we’ve been allowed to see. He captures some of the media firestorm that surrounded her upon her arrival on the national scene and the creation of her “media narrative” — naive, greedy, possibly corrupt and appealing to the nuttier elements of the GOP’s far right base. The film is designed to make her appear less alarming and as such, it works — until you start noticing what was left out. ...
Moore's complete review can be read at "Movie Review: The Undefeated."

Tina Dupuy has also seen "The Undefeated," discussed it with Stephen Bannon, and wrote about it in "Sarah Palin Movie Maker Wants You to Love Her Like He Does."

Peter Vonder Haar attended a screening of "The Undefeated" and wrote "Sarah Palin Sneak Preview: The Agony of The Undefeated."