GOP Summit—The Good, The Bad And The Absolutely Crazy

Half-Term Governor of Alaska: Sarah Palin | Jim Young/Reuters

 The Daily Beast

GOP presidential contenders flocked to Iowa on Saturday to try out their pitches on the unofficial beginning of the Iowa Caucus. Hint: Sarah Palin has lost her mind.
You’re going to read a lot of analysis of this weekend’s Freedom Summit as the unofficial beginning of the Iowa caucus.Whether that’s true depends entirely on how many of those who attended are still standing one long year from now—and how many of those who didn’t attend (Jeb Bush, Rand Paul) have campaigns that are still alive and well.The event does serve as a gauge for a candidate’s willingness to pander, and it is the beginning of serious media scrutiny for all the candidates as 2016 candidates,not as quaint spectacles (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) or interesting anomalies (Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina)…. or familiar former presidential candidates, who made up a non-shocking majority of the featured speakers (Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin).

What did we learn?

Palin is past her sell-by date.

It’s the unofficial policy of many serious political reporters (myself included) to not cover Palin speeches.  So it’s entirely possible I missed a key stretch of her decline that would help make sense of, or have prepared me for, the word-salad-with-a-cup-of-moose-stew that she presented.

Sample passage: “Things must change for our government! It isn’t too big to fail, it’s too big to succeed! It’s too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads or nothing will change, with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo! Another Latin word, status quo, and it stands for, ‘Man, the middle class and everyday Americans are really gettin’ taken for a ride.’”

The speech (perhaps a generous description) went on 15 minutes past the 20 minutes allotted other speakers. And even as she ended it, one sensed less a crescendo than the specter of a gong, a hook to pull her off, or—a sincere thought I had—an ambulance to take her… somewhere.

No one else embarrassed themselves out of the race.

The event was organized by immigration hawk Rep. Steve “Cantaloupes” King (with the help of Citizens United) and many pundits fretted (or eagerly anticipated) 47-percent-style gaffes in the service of speakers trying to out-xenophobe each other. I may have missed something, but the anti-immigration rhetoric stayed on the “self-deport” side of offensive. Santorum did some under-the-breath dog whistling in reference to legal immigration, positing that the U.S. is home to more non-native citizens than ever before. He contrasted those non-native-born workers to, ahem, “American workers.” As far as I know, if you work in America, you are an “American worker.” Unless Santorum is thinking of something else.

The soft bigotry of low expectation works!

Scott Walker continues to clear the “not Tim Pawlenty” bar, but no one seems to realize how weak of a standard that is. National journalists cooed over Walker’s relatively energetic speech, apparently forgetting they were comparing it to other Walker speeches. In a similar vein, Chris Christie did not intentionally piss anyone off or bully the audience. Christie gave what seemed a lot like a national-audience speech—probably the only speaker that played it so safe.

Sen. Mike Lee gave some sensible, serious suggestions.

I may be engaging in more expectation management, but I was pleasantly surprised by Lee’s earnest and non-applause-line-ridden speech. He beseeched the audience to look for a candidate that was “positive, principled, and proven”—all while explicitly taking himself out of the running. In what could have been a direct jab at his fellow guests, he quipped, “The principled candidate is not necessarily the guy who yells ‘Freedom!’ the loudest.” He could have been quoting Elizabeth Warren when he softened typical GOP bootstrap rhetoric: “Freedom doesn’t mean ‘You’re all on your own,’” he said, “It means, ‘We’re all in it together.’” Elizabeth Warren would approve.

The GOP is going to need to figure out how to run against someone who is not Obama.

Even Lee, who gave what might be the most forward-looking speech, hung many of his arguments on the framework of undoing what Obama has done. Every other speaker followed suit, and some of the night’s biggest applause lines had to do with the same “fake scandals” that already proved insufficiently interesting to the American people: Benghazi, with a dash of IRS. They speak of repealing Obamacare with the zest of people who think of the House’s own fifty-plus attempts as mere warm-ups. Even their foreign policy script has Obama and the specter of American decline as its primary villains—foes that have defeated them twice before.

Harvard Media Chief Hits The Nail On The Head: Conservative Pundits Damaging The Country

Alex Jones to leave Shorenstein Center July 1, 2015 |Harvard Kennedy School Photo

  1. Alex S. Jones is an American journalist who has been director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government since July 1, 2000. Wikipedia

Addicting Info

This past Wednesday, Alex S. Jones announced his departure from Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy. In so doing however, he gave a scathing assessment as to the status and nature of the media in this country, with the conservative pundit network and money in news solidly in his sight. And the cause, in the end, he blames on the lack of objectivity:

“I wish they could be more objective, I don’t begrudge them their particular politics, I just wish they weren’t simply one note, I think it’s damaging.”

By failing to be objective, he points out in an interview with Media Matters, the pundits have abandoned journalism entirely.

There’s no question that the people like the right wing pundits — left wing too, to a degree, but they are dwarfed by the right wing — have done a lot of damage to this country in my opinion, I don’t consider that journalism, I consider that to be advocacy.

… it’s more catering to what will draw an audience rather than what is important … if anything it’s the shift toward what has been thought of as the local television model, anything that will attract a crowd, but not necessarily invested in issues and in policy questions and in political debates and things that are of genuine importance.

I think it’s gotten worse, I guess because it’s gotten so much faster. All of the inherent weaknesses of a human enterprise like journalism are exaggerated and amplified by the speed of technology, being careless and being wrong and jumping to conclusions and not doing your homework, those were all there before the web, but the web makes them all realized quickly.

The technology of course has changed everything, the thing that I hope would not change and the thing I would express as my number one concern is that the values that were imbedded in the journalism that has been traditional, I hope that they will endure and be projected in this new media world. I think that is essential to there being credibility that will keep genuine news a force for good.

There is a place for advocacy, for lacking objectivity, but news reporting and journalism are not those places. By the pursuit of quick money, of junk journalism, these media outlets who claim to be news, mostly on the right-wing but with some left-wing pundits joining them, have damaged the very system we all rely upon.

It becomes a damaging cycle. Outlets which transition to advocacy become more profitable, as marketing opportunities become easier for catering to. This in turn pushes other media outlets to turn to similar advocacy, in order to meet the increased profitability for their owners. Instead of focusing on journalistic integrity, the process becomes a race to the bottom, a failure of journalism.

H/T: Media Matters

Bernie Sanders Exposes How The Koch Primary Is Undermining American Democracy

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-NH) | NH Journal


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) isn’t letting the Koch secret meeting go by unnoticed. In a statement, Sanders connected the dots between Citizens United and the Koch brothers primary that several potential Republican candidates are taking part in this weekend.

Sen. Sanders said, “Americans used to think Iowa and New Hampshire held the first caucus and primary in the nation every four years. Not anymore. Now the ‘Koch brothers primary’ goes first to determine who wins the blessing and financial backing of the billionaire class. This is truly sad and shows us how far Citizens United has gone to undermine American democracy.”

Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) are all speaking a secret Koch conference this weekend to make their pitch for the millions of billionaire dollars that will required to fuel their 2016 Republican presidential campaigns. The connection between the Koch agenda and governing became obvious when Sen. Mitch McConnell cut off debate on the Keystone XL pipeline so that Republican senators could get to the Koch meeting.

Campaign finance is a very complicated issue, but what isn’t complicated is the direct connection between the conservative billionaires campaign contributions and the way the Republicans run Congress. The outsized influence of billionaires on the left and right is bad for our electoral process, but there is a direct relationship between the Koch money and Republican policies. The Koch brothers have bought the Republican Party.

The impact of their purchase is that it won’t be Republican voters who decide which candidate will represent them in 2016. The Koch brothers and a handful of billionaires will pick their nominee in secret conferences and meetings. Once the Kochs have a nominee, the choice for voters will be between the Koch agenda disguised as the Republican Party and the Democratic candidate.

America is quickly moving towards a system of governance where voters choose between a candidate funded by oligarchs and the Democrats. This is a sad state of affairs for the country’s representative democracy, and the biggest reason Citizens United must be overturned.

The Week – POLITICS 1-25-2015


Sunday Talk: Reversal of fortune

Daily Kos

A funny thing happened on the way to the State of the Union address
President Obama stopped givingfuck about what his Republican and/or mainstream media critics think, and started getting real.

With no more campaigns to runObama returned to his trash-talkingelbow-throwing, Beyoncé-loving roots—and in doing so, he defied the so-calledconventional wisdom.”

We were told, again and again, that Republicans won a mandate in the midterms, and that Obama is a lame duck—maybe the lamest duck ever!

Or maybe not.

While the GOP has been stumbling toward 2016, alienating entire genders and voting blocs, Obama has been issuing executive orders and veto threats like they’re going out of style—and his approval rating has been rising.

This isn’t the way things were supposed to play out… but apparently Obama didn’t get the message.


Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Former Arkansas Gov.Mike Huckabee (R); Former NBA Player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Roundtable: Radio Host Hugh Hewitt, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), Helene Cooper(New York Times) and Tom Brokaw (NBC News).Face The Nation: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Roundtable: Susan Page (USA Today),Dana Milbank (Washington Post), Michael Crowley (Politico), Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic) and John Dickerson (CBS News).

This Week: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, Republican StrategistSarah Taylor Fagen, Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard) and Cokie Roberts (ABC News).

Fox News Sunday: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R); Roundtable: George Will (Washington Post), Ron Fournier (National Journal), Sociopath Liz Cheney and Charles Lane (Washington Post).

State of the Union: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Rep. Adam Schiff(D-CA); Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Rep.Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: an interview with GOP leaders Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell (preview); an interview with Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams (preview); and, a profile of Chinese tennis champion Li Na (preview).



Sarah Palin Poses With ‘Fuc_ You Michael Moore’ Crosshairs Sign At Gunshow

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Liberals Unite

Clint Eastwood’s film American Sniper is stirring passions and debate on both sides of the aisle. Not one to shy away from interjecting herself into controversial topics, half-term Governor Sarah Palin propelled herself right in the middle of it today.

While attending the SHOT firearm trade show on Friday Palin posed with two men and held a sign that read “Fuc_ You Michael Moore.” If you’re not able to make out what else is contained, there are two crosshairs in the “O’s.”

Filmmaker Michael Moore ignited controversy with a series of tweets sent last weekend which some considered to be about the film and its subject, sniper Chris Kyle. Moore referred to snipers as “cowards” and relayed that’s how his uncle lost his life while serving in World War II. Never mentioning the film-or Kyle-by name, the tweets kicked up an amazing dust storm on the right. Moore attempted to clarify, claiming he was thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr.-whose birthday was about to be marked, and whose life was ended at the hands of a sniper.

As you may have guessed, that didn’t temper the hate, as we can see in the sign held by the failed vice presidential candidate.

This isn’t the first time Palin has used murderous imagery to target people. SarahPac released an image featuring crosshairs on a map of legislators who voted for the Affordable Care Act that she was “targeting.” One of those targets was then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head a few months later at an event in Tucson.

Apparently Palin hasn’t learned her lesson, and continues to revel in violent imagery and language hurled against those she disagrees with politically.

Posing with a sign featuring crosshairs, at a gun show no less, makes you no better than those who celebrated the deaths of the twelve individuals at Charlie Hebdo, Governor Palin.

The White House Makes It Clear That Netanyahu Will Pay For Disrespecting President Obama

Obama and Netanyahu rangling over Iran – March 2012 | AFP Getty Images


The White House has been publicly calm about the blatant act of disrespect to President Obama orchestrated by Speaker Of The House John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but privately administration officials are warning that there will be a price to be paid for his actions.


“Senior American official” as quoted by Haaretz: “We thought we’ve seen everything. But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”

In a separate article on Haaretz an unidentified Democratic lawmaker suggested that was shooting himself in the foot by forcing Democrats to choose between Boehner and President Obama on the Iran sanctions bill, “Netanyahu is shooting himself in the foot, because by turning this into a partisan issue, he may be forcing some Democratic members to choose between Boehner and Obama, which, for them, is no choice at all.”

Republicans and conservative media are trying to twist this story to feed their narrative that President Obama hates Israel, but a more accurate description of what is happening is that Boehner and Netanyahu have conspired to disrespect the President Of The United States. The Israeli Prime Minister will likely regret his behavior because what goes around comes around.

Netanyahu openly buddied up to Mitt Romney in 2012, did everything that he could to get a fellow conservative war hawk elected president. Netanyahu’s antics aren’t playing well with American Jewish groups and his willingness to use his power as a foreign leader to get involved in a dispute between the executive and legislative branches of the United States government is almost as troubling as the the fact that John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress for exactly this reason.

Barack Obama isn’t a president who bellows and rages. He doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve, but his administration doesn’t forget. When they say that there will be a price to be paid, that price will not be cheap.