Saturday, October 26, 2013

"This Could Give Sarah's Visits To Shake Hands At Construction Sites A Whole New Spin...."

She serves a purpose.

But not the purpose she purports.

 (CNN) -- The Republican establishment can't stand her. The media mocks her. But Sarah Palin isn't going anywhere.
Far from it.
After laying low for much of this year, Palin is gingerly stepping back into the public arena with a national book tour, a trip to the always-important political state of Iowa, and an eye on making yet another series of splashy endorsements in a variety of competitive Republican primaries.
Five years after rocketing from Alaska obscurity to worldwide fame, Palin wants to be a political player in 2014.
Which raises the question: Does she still matter?
"She is the most important endorsement in Republican politics today, by far," said Sal Russo, a Republican consultant who co-founded the Tea Party Express, a group that has booked Palin to speak at numerous public events dating back to the 2010 midterm cycle. "She can move the needle in a primary more than anyone else can."
Her detractors see things differently.
After flirting with a presidential bid and stirring up a tidal wave of media attention in the run-up to the 2012 Iowa caucuses, with a slew of punchy speeches and a madcap bus tour of historical sites along the East Coast, Palin eventually decided to pass on a shot at the White House.
When her presidential potential evaporated, a number of Republicans said, so did her relevance.
"I don't think that she has the juice that she had four years ago, I really don't," said Katon Dawson, a GOP fundraiser in South Carolina who runs a Super PAC backing Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the Senate's batch of endangered old guard Republicans up for re-election in 2014. "She does have a following and when she speaks, people listen. I just don't know if that voice is as loud or as important as it used to be."
Dawson said he gives Palin "credit for monetizing her run for vice president," a backhanded compliment that appropriately sums up the feelings of eye-rolling GOP professionals everywhere, who wish she would disappear back into the frigid wilderness of the Last Frontier.
Palin's standing as a serious political figure, already tenuous, has seemingly been in decline ever since she decided not to run for president and saw conservatives sidelined as Mitt Romney captured the Republican nomination, only to lose to President Barack Obama.
In reporting her upcoming speech to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition on November 9, The Des Moines Register this month described her on first reference as "conservative pundit Sarah Palin," rather than the honorifics usually bestowed on her, "former vice presidential candidate" and "former Alaska governor."
Contributions to her political action committee, Sarah PAC, tapered off after she passed on a presidential bid. Earlier this year, she publicly parted ways with Fox News, where she had been employed as a paid analyst since 2010 (she re-joined the network five months later).
Palin hasn't been completely absent from politics in 2013. She issued a range of political pronouncements on her Facebook page, attacking President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, taking particular umbrage at their efforts to scale back gun rights. And in March, she delivered one of the more well-received speeches at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
But she has devoted much of her energies this year to a Christmas-themed book, "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas," that will release in November and launch her on a multicity book tour through states like Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona (the promotional tour also offers her a loophole to appear on other television networks).
It was the 16-day partial government shutdown, a fight sparked by Republican-led efforts to dismantle Obama's Affordable Care Act, that energized Palin once again, those around her say.
She has been impressed, one Palin aide said, by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, two tea party stalwarts who helped orchestrate the defund-Obamacare movement that led to the shutdown and set off a new round of establishment-versus-grassroots warfare inside the Republican Party.
"There is a need to step up now," said one Palin aide who declined to go on the record like most people around her usually do. "She steps up when she sees there is a need. She sees the fire that Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have started."
Palin opened the door last week to helping unseat Graham in South Carolina and a number of other incumbent Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Lamar Alexander in Tennessee. 
"We're going to shake things up in 2014," Palin wrote on Facebook, still her preferred public megaphone. "Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races. Let's start with Kentucky -- which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi -- from sea to shining sea we will not give up. We've only just begun to fight."
The post, which was "liked" by more than 31,000 of her followers, was rapidly picked up by a range of conservative websites. Palin's small circle of advisers received an uptick in their usual flood of speaking requests, one adviser said, including from some of the insurgent conservative candidates running for Senate.
One of those who reached out was Chris McDaniel, a state senator from Mississippi gunning to take out six-term Sen. Thad Cochran, a low-key but powerful member of the upper chamber who has served in Washington for more than three decades. McDaniel has already been endorsed by three conservative outfits, the Club For Growth, the Madison Project and the Senate Conservatives Fund, hungry to unseat Cochran.
McDaniel said Palin's endorsement, if it comes, would be an unquestionable boon, especially in a deep red state like Mississippi, where GOP primaries are dominated by a small-but-motivated base electorate. Even during the high-profile Republican presidential primary of 2012, only about 300,000 people cast ballots. That's in a state with nearly 2 million registered voters.
"Sarah Palin understands that there is a movement out there of good conservatives and just regular people," McDaniel told CNN. "She taps into that. We would absolutely welcome her."
Palin's ability to propel tea party-aligned candidates into office was a well-documented phenomenon in 2010, when she endorsed over 60 Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates, the majority of whom won. Her midterm travels even inspired The Washington Post to launch a "Palin Endorsements Tracker," complete with clickable audio of a growling grizzly bear, an homage to her self-styled "Mama Grizzly" image.
Though Palin's political action committee, Sarah PAC, doled out contributions to her favored candidates, her endorsements bring more than just hard dollars.
When Palin showed up in South Carolina to endorse Nikki Haley during her 2010 gubernatorial primary, a race Haley went on to win, a Republican working for a rival campaign calculated that the event generated "over a million dollars" in television and radio coverage.
"There was absolutely no way when that endorsement came down to break through the news cycle," the Republican said of Palin. "It was an earned media blowtorch."
Palin's star was burning much hotter in 2010 than it is today, but she demonstrated similar clout last year in Nebraska's three-way Republican Senate primary -- and she did so without even traveling to corn country.
In that race, establishment figures had lined up behind attorney general Jon Bruning, while outside conservative groups like FreedomWorks and the Club For Growth backed state treasurer Don Stenberg, who also had the backing of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
But Palin jumped in the race late and got behind Deb Fischer, a little-known state legislator, pushing her over the finish line and stunning the political class in Washington. Fischer coasted to a win in November and is now a United States senator.
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call described the Palin endorsement as "an adrenaline shot six days before the GOP primary." Fischer's campaign manager, Aaron Trost, said Palin helped them "dictate the tempo of the last week of the campaign." All Palin did was post a statement of support online.
"Before she endorsed we were down four points, within the margin of error and coming up slightly, and then all of a sudden the narrative changed and we dominated the news cycle," Trost said. "People who underestimate the power of her endorsement are going to be really sorry. People that write her off don't understand Republican primaries."
Given the tea party's toxic national brand -- only 31% of Americans had a favorable view of the conservative movement in a recent CNN poll -- Palin's sway is almost certainly limited to Republican primaries.
Earlier this month, Palin campaigned on behalf of New Jersey Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan, who ultimately fell to Democrat Cory Booker in last week's special election.
Like few Republicans can, she attracted thousands of fired-up, flag-waving conservatives to an out-of-the-way motor speedway in the middle of the state, but Democrats were equally pumped to welcome the polarizing Palin to the Garden State. "Sarah Palin's endorsing Lonegan thrills both parties," read one headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Still, Palin continues to wield great influence among grassroots conservatives, Trost argued, especially in Republican primaries in right-leaning states like Nebraska, where winning a primary all-but-guarantees a general election victory over token Democratic opposition. About 200,000 people participated in last year's Nebraska Senate primary, and Fischer essentially won a Senate seat with barely 80,000 votes.
"People forget about this sometimes, but because Sarah Palin has a child with Down syndrome, a lot of people in the pro-life community view her as not just talking the talk about pro-life but walking the walk," Trost said. "Social issues play a big factor in a low turnout Republican primary."
Despite Palin's veiled threat to campaign against veteran senators like McConnell, Cochran, Alexander and Graham, her endorsement history reveals a preference for dabbling in open primaries, rather than endorsing challengers over incumbents.
There's also the fact that each of those senators has a long-standing relationship with her former ticket-mate and political patron from 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain, whom she continues to hold in high esteem, people close to her say. As for Graham, one of McCain's closest pals, Palin donated $1,000 to his 2014 re-election campaign through her PAC back in 2009.
At the same time, Palin is now aligning herself with members of the tea party's uncompromising new guard, especially Cruz, who has made plain his distaste for old bull Senate leadership.
Palin's relationship with Cruz dates to last year, when she endorsed him during his underdog Republican primary bid in 2012. It was Cruz who introduced Palin when she spoke at CPAC in March.
During the shutdown, Palin and her husband Todd traveled to Washington to appear with Cruz and Lee at a rally to re-open the temporarily shuttered World War II memorial.
The conservative quartet later joined up with Cruz's wife for lunch at Hill Country Barbecue, a casual downtown Washington restaurant known for its brisket.
Chip Roy, Cruz's chief-of-staff, said Palin and the senator were often in communication during the shutdown, he said he expects their back-and-forth to continue into the midterm cycle.
"There is enormous respect between the two, and there is increasing communication between the offices," Roy told CNN. "As the year has progressed, I think Palin has been pretty simpatico with what Sen. Cruz and Sen. Lee have been trying to accomplish over the last year, fighting these debates, talking to the American people and challenging the status quo."
Page after page could be written debating the virtue/vice nature of Palin's political presence.
Around here, we enjoy getting to the chase cutting part of things.
If credit must be given at all, then let it be that Palin's participation ,at worst, serves the purpose of giving us a clear cut vision of what to avoid when making the serious choice in 2016 and, at best, keeps the discussion and debate fires burning.
In much the same way as, for example, Miley Cyrus's antics keep the discussion about boundaries in entertainment alive and kicking.
Ironically, South Carolina's Katon Dawson's comments might arguably be applied to either or both the stumper and the singer.
"She does have a following and when she speaks, people listen. I just don't know if that voice is as loud or as important as it used to be."
Put into a different perspective, it goes like this.
At this writing, Sarah Palin can claim just shy of four million people who have indicated that they "like" what they see on Mama Grizzly's Facebook page.
While over thirty two million people have indicated the same "like" for Miley Cyrus.
And though they are separated by a twenty eight million Facebook friend margin and walk, technically, two different professional paths, there is one quality they share equally, as expressed by the proverbial conventional wisdom.
They're a joke.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"...Oh, Look, Honey...The Republicans Have Put Their Candidate Back Out On The Street Again..."

Attention Shirley Ellis.

Opportunity knocks.

The talented soulstress who gave us 1965' top 5 hit, "The Name Game" would probably rocket back to the top of the charts were she to record a little updated version of her classic, adjusted for what's going on inside the Beltway these here days.

"The Blame Game..........

....let's do Obama........Obama, bama, bo bama, banana fana fo fama, fee fi mo mama, Obama......a little bit with Boehner....Boehner, ainer, bo boehner, banana fana fo fainer, fee fi mo mainer, Boehner...."

and so on.

Pick the applicable recipient of your individual wrath and Shirley away.

The various partisan panel news shows seem to have all settled into a comfortable, and consistent, groove.

The Democrats support Obama and disagree, even dispute, what the Republicans are all about.

The Republicans hate Obama and disdain anyone who doesn't share their hatred.

Liberals would like to see Obama cut a little more slack.

Conservatives would like to see Obama impeached.

Or worse.

Here's a thing, though.

While I do, sincerely, understand, intellectually, the frustration of the Republican party at their inability to make good on their public stated vow to spend the years 2009 through 2016 laser focused on the single goal of thwarting anything and everything that Barack Obama stands for, I have come to realize, through long hours of listening to the Fox News pontificators and thoughtful reflection upon said pontificating, a basic, inevitable truth.

The Republican Party has ,in absolute fairness, no one to blame for all of this but themselves.

And here's a little why to go with the who dun it.

The 2012 presidential election brought to a close the first term of Barack Obama. The country as a whole and Republicans in particular had just spent four years gauging, assessing and judging the good, bad and/or ugly of what Obama had, or had not, accomplished in those four years.

And, reasonable truth be told, it wasn't, to the lion's share of everyday Americans, regardless of party stripe, a whole lotta.

So, as is our national custom, the four year mark rolled around again and the Republican Party had a constitutionally guaranteed opportunity to end their unhappiness and replace Barack Obama with a President who would cure what ailed them and, in their belief system, the country.

And who did the Republican Party offer up as an alternative to the incumbent?

Yet another upper crust, older, white rich guy turned Governor turned presidential candidate who not only spouted the same, old tired upper crust, older, white rich guy manifesto but failed to sell anyone but the hardcore right wing dreamers the same, old tired, upper crust, older, white rich guy manifesto.

Put more sound byte-ishly...

If Barack Obama was the problem, it was clear almost from the outset that Mitt Romney was not the solution.

Now, a year or so into Barack Obama's second term, the right wingers are even more frustrated, even more angry, even more hateful, even more vitriolic, even more, even more, even more than they were before.

And it's their own damn fault.

Because they had a chance, a very good chance, of offering up an honest change.

Not a change from Obama.

A change from the same old, tired, upper crust, older white rich guys they've been offering up for what now seems like a couple of generations.

Memo to the right:

If you really want this country to get behind your candidate, then give us a candidate we can get excited about.

Give us a candidate who speaks to all age groups, all income levels, all ethnicities.

People who don't believe that everything that flows out of Hannity or Limbaugh's mouth is gospel but don't always agree with Matthews or Maddow, either.

People who have both Fox News and MSNBC on their remote favorite buttons and go back and forth to hear, and consider, any and all points of view, looking for any little nugget that shines in the direction of what might be good for their family and their jobs and their lives.

People who don't give a damn about what party a candidate belongs to and just want, desperately want, to have somebody ask for their votes who makes us believe, for the first time in a long, long, long time that they have a fucking clue about what it really means to be a leader, a statesman, a president of all of the people, all of the time.

People like me.

And a lot of people I know.

Bottom line, GOP.

And, while we're at it, this is good for the Democratic gander, too.

Do you want us to swallow what you're offering?

Then, for the love of God, stop trying to feed us the same, stale white bread. the name of the game.

Let's do different.

"different, ifferent, bo bifferent, banana fanna..."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"On Behalf Of Them, They Would Like For Us To Agree That They Are To Blame Here, Not Them...."

It took me a while.

But I finally figured out why the Capitol Building of the United States is topped with a dome.

It's symbolic in a way we don't ever consider.

Dan Bongino is a former Secret Service agent, former candidate for the Maryland Senate and, now, a candidate for Congress.

He is also a Republican.

I've written about him before, mentioning that I met him last year when recording some of his voice spots for campaign commercials in my, then, gig at a local radio station. I got to chat with him briefly after and was left both pleased to meet him and impressed with his presentation.

I liked the guy.

Still do.

Today, he posted the following on Facebook.

The President continues to talk about our government's failures as if he is not its Chief Executive.

We have reached a new low in leadership where our government has disturbingly locked our veterans out of their memorials while allowing an immigration rally on the National Mall which fits their agenda.

Even worse, in conjunction with their Senate allies, they have refused to pay death benefits for our fallen soldiers while still collecting salaries themselves and passionately fighting to hold on to their #Obamacare exemption.

I am eternally grateful for having been born here, in this country and at this time. Our prosperity is not an accident, but it will be a memory if we don't change course in this next election. It's our country, let's take it back.

Just as when you meet someone that your heart tells you that you will love no matter what, I know from having met and talked with Dan that, assuming he has no deep, dark Anthony Weiner schematics hidden in a trunk under his bed, I'll always like and respect the guy.

But a thought was triggered in my head by a thought in his post that I would love to have the opportunity to share with and/or even discuss with him.

The thought expressed in his last sentence.

A "rallying cry" that strikes me as an exercise in futility when it comes to approaching problem solving from that direction.

"It's our country...let's take it back."

What, exactly, does that mean?


And please don't respond knee jerkingly by countering symbolic, but inane, rhetoric with symbolic, but inane, catch phrases.

Think about it a little.

Dan starts off by chastising, rightly so, "our government's failures".

From there, though, the elusive, mysterious and ever interchangeable "they" take over.

"They locked our veterans out of their own memorial..."

"They allow an immigration rally which fits their agenda..."

"They refused to pay death benefits to our soldiers while they keep paying themselves their salaries..."

Even an elementary school student would be inclined to wonder...

"Who are they?"

Following the path of logic Dan starts us out on in his first sentence, the infamous they is "our government".


The government is (not counting the agencies, bureaus, departments, etc that could, and in fact do, fill an entire city)  made up of 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, 6 Delegates, a Vice President and a President.

So, if we're doling out the diss evenly and fairly, that puts the blame square on 543 sets of shoulders.

And if that's the case, then the solution to the problem seems, even to that elementary school student, a simple one.

Replace all of them.

The aforementioned symbolic, but inane, catch phrase commonly invoked here would be "throw the bums out."

Much like the pages of the New York Giants playbook, though, the concept looks good on paper, but just don't seem to work in the real world.

Because, as a rule, the result of replacing the "bum" is, to paraphrase The Who, "meet the new bum, same as the old bum."

Meanwhile, back to "they".

To those who hate Barack Obama, they is he.

To those who hate John Boehner, they is he.

To those who hate Democrats, they is them.

To those who hate Republicans, they is them.

To those who just hate, they is anybody who isn't them.

And to those on the outside who still believe that our best days are ahead of us, people like Dan Bongino, they is apparently anyone and everyone standing in the way of them who want they to stop what they are doing.

To them.

Or us.

Or....uh, where were we?

There are still good people who want to do good work and put their country ahead of their own personal interests.

I think Dan Bongino is one of them.

But basic problem solving requires something critical be determined before any progress can be made in solving said problem.

Correctly identifying the problem.

The politics and, in large measure, the politicians of America don't do that anymore.

They simply blame they.

Or them.

Which brings me back to the symbolism of the Capitol Dome.


As in "...and round".

The solution to any problem requires something else.

Working, in some way, to some extent, together to find a solution.

The politics and, in large measure, the politicians of America don't do that anymore, either.

They waste precious time and solution finding energy figuring out ways to assign blame for the problem.

They can hardly be expected to find the time to make things right.

When they spend so much time vilifying those who made things wrong.

And, whoever they are, they do a disservice to them.

Them is us.