Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sarah Palin Never Returned Clothes From RNC

"I'll just tell people I returned it.  They won't notice 4 years later that I'm still wearing it."

HopeForAmerica made a startling revelation on Politicalgates Tuesday - Sarah Palin never returned the clothes the Republican National Committee bought her four years ago - you know, that $150,000 credit card charge the McCain campaign regretted.

Yesterday on Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin popped up in her bright red leather jacket.

Guess it is easier to say you have done something then to actually have done it.  Palin talks about what a great person she is but in the end we all know what she is.

If you like conspiracies, this could be evidence of Fox News acting in concert with the RNC, after all, the clothes were said to have been sitting in the RNC headquarters and Palin happens to be a paid Fox News contributor.  Maybe RNC is acting as wardrobe for the former half-term governor/failed vice-presidential candidate.

I will have to say that Palin is quite the idiot for sticking a pin (see lapel) through her expensive leather jacket, but why should she care?  She didn't pay for it.

Gingrich's Food Stamp Hypocrisy

Too expand, or not to expand, that is the hypocrisy.

Recently, Newt Gingrich referred to President Obama as the "food stamp president," insisting that under the current administration more people have been enrolled in food assistance programs.  Gingrich's comments do more to reinforce negative stereotypes then they do anything else.

Alan Bjerga and Jennifer Oldham wrote the following for Bloombert Businessweek:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said attacks on the U.S. food-stamp program, a standby of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s criticisms of President Barack Obama, exploit stereotypes of aid recipients.

Those who get the federal assistance “are playing by the rules,” Vilsack, whose department administers food stamps, said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “There are misconceptions about this program and confusion” about recipients caused by negative portrayals by some Obama opponents, he said.

Food-stamp use has increased 46 percent since December 2008, a month before Obama took office as the economy was still shedding jobs. Total spending has more than doubled in four years to an all-time high of $75.3 billion, a level called unsustainable by Republicans including Gingrich, who has labeled Obama “the best food-stamp president in American history.”

Gingrich’s characterization of Obama’s food stamp policies has drawn criticism from groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which issued a statement Jan. 6 calling his comments “inaccurate” and “divisive.”

Gingrich has dismissed the complaints as a smear from “modern liberals” who are “off the deep end.”


About 34 percent of food-stamp recipients are white, while 22 percent are African Americans and 16 percent Hispanic, with the rest being Asian, Native American or those who chose not to identify their race, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About half are younger than 18, and 8 percent are older than 60. Some 41 percent of all recipients live in households where family members are employed.
So why do these comments matter?

On the campaign trail in Florida Gingrich levied a claim against fellow Republican and GOP contender Mitt Romney that as governor of Massachusetts Romney denied expansion of food assistance for retired Jews.

Jon Ward wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
From morning until the last of five events at the end of the day, Gingrich branded Romney a liar and cheat, accusing him of suppressing religious liberty and trying to "buy the election."

Gingrich continued to harp on a charge that Romney, during his time as Massachusetts governor, vetoed funds to expand the provision of kosher food for Bay State retirees. Gingrich said Romney has a “lack of concern for religious liberty."

"Romney cut off kosher food to elderly Jews on Medicare," Gingrich said, stretching the truth. And Gingrich also hit Romney for a 2005 decision as governor to require Roman Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception, which many Catholics believe is a form of abortion, to rape victims.
How are comments made by Gingrich about the president and those about Romney different?

They are not.

In one situation Gingrich blames the expansion of food assistance programs on policies of the Democrats but in another Gingrich blasts his opponent for not expanding food assistance programs, and on top of that, he claims it is a form of religious suppression against Jews.  This line of thinking is just to pander to Florida's large Jewish population and being that today is the final day of Florida's primary and Gingrich's lead from after his South Carolina win has dwindled, he needs all the fear-mongering he can muster to try and make his impending Florida loss seem not so bad.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jan Brewer Acts Tough For Base

It is now all over the web - Jan Brewer stood tough in the face of the president and showed him who's boss.  Brewer even hit the airwaves after the encounter to insult the president some more, calling him "thin skinned," but is that really the truth?

The president does not seem to think so.

"I think it's always good publicity for a Republican if they're in an argument with me. ... But this was really not a big deal," Obama said. "Last time we met, she wasn't fully satisfied. But, you know, I think this is a classic example of things getting blown out of proportion."

The president is one hundred percent right and I will point to another famous (and recent) example where things went the other way, and a popular Republican governor embraced the president - Charlie Crist.

John Dickerson wrote the following for Slate regarding both the Crist-Obama hug and more:
Crist's downfall in the Republican Party is often clocked from the moment he hugged President Obama in February 2009 . Obama, in the early stages of his attempt to reach out to the other party, praised Crist's support of his stimulus spending during a Florida visit, and the governor praised right back. The hug alone wasn't where Crist's transgressions began or ended, of course. But it became a powerful symbol that opponents within the Republican Party used against him. (His opponent launched a Web fundraising page with the picture and a caption that read "Get the picture?")

The public presidential hug has a mysterious power. Once upon a time it worked mostly for good. Civilians who get one beam like they've been drinking. At party fundraisers, it's proof that the senator or representative is thisclose to the most powerful man in the world. In town-hall meetings, it can show the president cares—whether it's Barack Obama comforting a woman who can't get health care coverage or George Bush comforting the daughter of a 9/11 victim . (The most famous presidential hug, between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky , was a special case.)

But starting with Sen. Joe Lieberman , the hug became political poison. Democrats used his embrace of George W. Bush, and Bush's peck on the cheek, to help force the Connecticut senator out of the party in 2006. Democrats used John McCain 's hug with George Bush to show that his claims to being a maverick were hollow. (Now McCain won't even hug himself ). Hugging is so fraught with danger that even Sen. Tom Coburn , the Oklahoma Republican whose conservative bona fides are beyond question, received critical letters when he hugged Obama before the State of the Union in January.
Looks like Brewer just did not want to become another casualty of the political hug.

Also, is Brewer really sticking it to the president or is she looking like she is yelling at Obama because they happen to be standing on the loud tarmac?

Newt Gingrich Lie About ABC Interview With Ex-Wife

Jon Ward wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
When CNN's John King asked Newt Gingrich about his past infidelities during a South Carolina debate last week, Gingrich's thunderous response helped him win that state's primary.

The former House speaker dismissed the question, decrying media bias. But it turns out that for all his theatrics, he lied when attacking ABC News for reporting on allegations by his second ex-wife, Marianne Gingrich, that he asked her for an "open marriage."

"Now, let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. The story is false," Gingrich said last Thursday night in the debate. "Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested, because they would like to attack any Republican."
"ABC did a one-sided story, wanted no rebuttal, wanted to run it two nights before a primary, and we fought with them for several days over it, and just said, 'Look, give us equal time.' Okay?" Gingrich said. "Because it's a lie; it's not true."

While Gingrich asserted multiple times that he was being wrongfully attacked by ABC, it has now come to light (as if it were not obvious before) that Gingrich lied.  There were not several personal friends offered by the campaign to rebut claims from Gingrich's second ex-wife - only two daughters from his first ex-wife.

Why would Gingrich lie about it at all only to come clean a couple days later?

Gingrich decided to lie because it was his way of handling a potentially damaging story on the eve of a primary that he eventually won.  Gingrich's strategy was to go on the offensive and seize control of the narrative and then advance the conversation to another subject.  After the debate, nobody was really focusing on the allegations made by Gingrich's second ex-wife.  Instead they were focusing on Gingrich's attack and his overall debate performance, which because of the attack gave the perception of strength.

Now that the primary was won and the story is old news, Gingrich's camp can now say it was all a lie and move on and if the media calls him out on it he has his original attack - that the establishment and biased media are trying to destroy his campaign.

Another thing of interest in Gingrich's comments against ABC - his request asking for "equal time" to rebut the claims.  The Fairness Doctrine is a popular target among conservatives and I am sure many Republicans who have been watching the debates would love to know that Gingrich was the co-sponsor of the Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 1987, which essentially codified the FCC's Fairness Doctrine into law.  This is another flip flop - Gingrich's official campaign site states that he opposes the doctrine.

“Newt does not support the Fairness Doctrine and he has been vocally critical of the left’s efforts to reinstate the doctrine over the past decade, including supporting Mike Pence’s bill that prohibited government censorship in radio in 2007.”

Which is it Newt? Are you for or against fairness in broadcasting? Your website says one thing but your words asking for "equal time" from ABC says another.

Jon Stewart, Daily Show Point To Hypocrisy Regarding Religious Freedom

Flip Flop: Gingrich Upset About Audience Participation!

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was upset on Tuesday when moderator Brian Williams of NBC News asked the audience to hold applause until the commercial breaks.

“I wish in retrospect I’d protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it’s wrong,” Gingrich said. “And I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that the audience is going to side with the candidates against the media, which is what they’ve done in every debate.”

Gingrich even threatened to pull out of future debates if the audience was not allowed to participate.

Fast forward a few days to another debate, this time Gingrich performed poorly being attacked aggressively by opponent Mitt Romney. What was Gingrich's excuse this time?

Gingrich's camp claimed Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment stacked the audience with Romney supporters - an accusation that has no facts to back it up.

"They definitely packed the room," Kevin Kellems, one of Gingrich's senior advisers, told The Huffington Post. "The problem for them is their candidate, at several junctures, couldn't remember what he had said before on an issue or what the fundamental truth is on a given topic. TV viewers tend to notice and remember things like that."

Gingrich should amend what he said regarding the Tuesday debate.

"We're going to serve notice on future debates," Gingrich said. "We're just not going to allow that to happen. That’s wrong. The media doesn’t control free speech. People ought to be allowed to applaud if they want to."

Gingrich should have said "people ought to be allowed to applaud if they want to... but only for me."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mitt's Magic Number: 13.9

As a result of rising pressure from his republican opponents, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has released his tax returns earlier then he said he would, releasing the return for 2010 first with 2011 to come soon.  His 2010 return shows that his effective tax rate for that year was an amazingly low 13.9 percent, or roughly one-third what an average worker pays in taxes.  His return also showed offshore accounts in tax-dodge havens like the Cayman Islands and Switzerland as well as charitable donations to the Mormon church (is it called charity when members of the Mormon church are required to tithe to remain a "member in good standing?").

Why is this an issue?

For the GOP field it should be applauded.  Republicans love lower taxes and every GOP candidate is campaigning on lowering taxes but the problem with Mitt's return is that here is a man who pays an extremely low rate when compared to the average worker who is advocating lowering taxes for the extremely wealthy.  Republicans have built up this resentment for hard-working Americans while pushing the idea that people like Mitt are suffering under a terrible tax burden but this return proves that the rich just want to get richer while the everyday man gets laid off or becomes underemployed... and has to pay a higher tax to boot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gingrich Is A "Master Debater!"

Here is a screen shot from the January 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

The chyron reads: "Gingrich the 'master' debater."

Say "Gingrich the master debater" five times fast.  You should get a good laugh!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Obama To Shrink Government. Will GOP Balk?

President Obama will ask Congress on Friday for the reorganizational authority held by presidents up until 1984 to restructure government agencies to help eliminate waste, redundancies, and bureaucracy, starting with a proposal to start merging six trade and commerce agencies.

They are: the Commerce Department's core business and trade functions; the Small Business Administration; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; the Export-Import Bank; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and the Trade and Development Agency.

Not only would this move help to make a friendlier environment for businesses, it could possibly eliminate up to 2,000 government jobs - a Republican wet dream - so the real question is how would Republicans react?

Will Republicans back the proposal and applaud the decision to try and shrink government and aid businesses, er, I mean job creators, or will they attack the president for a power grab and try to leverage their own talking points for even more concessions from the Democrats?

Even though you pretty much hear this kind of thing from the Republican presidential candidates all the time - think of how many of them said they would eliminate government agencies or stop certain governmental functions on day one of their administration - I think the latter of the two above mentioned scenarios will play out. Just look at the payroll tax cut debate at the end of last year. Despite touching on everything Republicans love, they refused to go along with Democrats demanding more to get the tax cut passed.

It is also a possibility that Republicans will refuse to budge on this consolidation effort in fear that Obama will gain momentum in the payroll and Bush tax cut debates to come, which will no doubt play a role in this year's election.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rick Santorum's Other Terri Shiavo Problem

In regards to the electability of Rick Santorum, news articles have been recently uncovering yet another reason why Santorum will never see it to the presidency - something pundits are calling his "Terri Shiavo problem," referring to the controversial fight over whether or not to keep a brain-dead woman on life support despite the wishes of herself and her spouse, eventually leading to the intervention of both the government and the courts.

Andy Kroll wrote the following for Mother Jones:
Then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who's now running for president, was one of the leading proponents of state intervention to save Schiavo's life, cosponsoring a bill to intervene in the case and even visiting Schiavo in the hospital. That aggressive advocacy helped lead to Santorum's ouster from Congress the next year. Now, the Schiavo debate is rearing its head in New Hampshire—and on the same day that Santorum needs a strong showing in the state's first-in-the-nation primary after his near-win in Iowa's caucuses...

In 2005, Santorum repeatedly demanded that Schiavo be kept alive against the wishes of her husband. "We need to do something to stop this unconscionable act on the part of the Florida Court," he said. "Terri Schiavo is a daughter, a sister, and most importantly, a person. We cannot allow an innocent person to be put to death." Santorum even used his position as a US senator to get Congress to subpoena the judge in the case. (The judge ignored Congress.) And most memorably, Santorum paid a visit Schiavo in the hospital when all the nation was watching—a visit, it turned out, made possible by Walmart's private jet and coinciding with a fundraiser of Santorum's.
While the article touched upon Santorum's fanaticism and fundamentalism and his avoidance of the topic to not risk upsetting social moderates that tend to dominate New Hampshire Republicans, the article failed to mention one other thing - Santorum's hypocrisy regarding his desire to intervene in the Shiavo situation and his opposition to universal health care, more specifically the individual mandate (after his flip-flop reversing his support of a mandate, of course).

Santorum has made claims that "Obamacare" is designed to create dependents of the state - to "hook" voters into voting Democratic, thus stealing the election from people like Santorum.

“ObamaCare is a game-changer that makes every single citizen dependent on the U.S. government for their life,” Santorum said at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire. “That’s how they see you … as people to hook, as people to become dependent on them. There’s a push to get more and more people dependent. Why? Because [they say], 'Once we get you hooked, we’ll never let you go, and by the way, they’ll reelect us.' "

He also has made arguments attacking the mandate forcing people to purchase into insurance markets.

And where was Santorum when the audience at one of the GOP debates called for letting the uninsured die?

So what is the significance?

While Santorum attacks health care reform for forcing people to purchase into the health care market based on the fact that they will one day participate in that market, he had no problem forcing uninsured individuals from receiving medical care - Terri Shiavo was dropped from her insurance provider, Prudential, June 30th, 1990.

One can ask the question of where Santorum's form of government intervention stops.  Will parents fear prosecution for not tending to the smallest of their childrens' colds?  Will children face punishment for not taking care of their elderly parents?  And who foots the bill?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Historian" Gingrich Wrong About Founding Fathers, Marijuana

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich decided to exercise his historical knowledge tackling the decriminalization of marijuana and the opinions of our founding fathers, in particular George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Sam Stein wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
If Newt Gingrich needed a reminder that he wasn't in Iowa anymore, it came rather quickly during his first appearance here Wednesday, when he was pressed on three separate occasions about the overreaches of federal drug policy.

During a town hall-style appearance in Concord, the former House Speaker said he had no interest in exploring drug decriminalization, arguing that such efforts haven't worked in Europe. Contra Gingrich, however, Portugal has had some success with decriminalization initiatives.

Pushed a bit later on the incarceration rate related to petty drug crimes, Gingrich responded, "I think the best thing is to get young people not to do drugs and then you won't be dealing with criminals that you just described."

A third resident of the "live free or die" state argued that the founding fathers had been far more lenient about marijuana than the current political class. "I think Jefferson or George Washington would have rather strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana and their techniques with dealing with it would have been rather more violent than our current government," Gingrich replied.
This is where Gingrich the Historian demonstrates his lack of knowledge - both Washington and Jefferson both grew marijuana, or hemp, on their Virginia farms back in the day.

The Straight Dope (you can check numerous other sources if you want) detailed the extent of Washington's and Jefferson's drug experiences:
Two approaches we could take here. The first is we just stick to the facts. Lotta fun that is. The second is we wave gaily at the facts en route to a more entertaining sociopolitical perspective. This is the Fox News system, and you can see it works for them. Let's see what we can come up with based on the following:
  • Botanically, marijuana equals hemp. As we've established in the past, these are basically two names for the same plant.
  • Useful for rope, paper, and clothing, hemp was long promoted in Virginia as an alternative cash crop to tobacco. Tobacco depleted the soil, and gluts sometimes drove prices down. Shifting economics led to a small "hemp boom" by 1765. In two Virginia counties, folks were allowed to pay their taxes in hemp.
  • Both Washington and Jefferson tried growing hemp on their Virginia farms, with mixed success. Washington used some of what he grew to make hemp clothing worn by his slaves. However, U.S. hemp exported to Britain often was of such poor quality that it couldn't be sold, and Washington was never able to turn a profit on the crop despite sustained effort. Jefferson also seems to have grown hemp strictly for local consumption, from which we deduce he couldn't make money at it either. In short, not only were Washington and Jefferson marijuana farmers, they were unsuccessful marijuana farmers.
  • Notwithstanding their failure to make a fortune from hemp, Jefferson and Washington kept at it. Washington continued to tout the crop after he became president. Jefferson invented a better "hemp brake" to separate the fibers from the stalks, something he thought was so important agriculturally that he refused to patent it. This tells us two things. First, Jefferson ran an advanced marijuana processing facility. Second, he was a socialist.
  • Both Jefferson and Washington traded seeds and plants with other farmers on a regular basis. Jefferson wrote of receiving hemp seedlings from someone in Missouri, and it would have been only neighborly to send some Virginia seedlings back. Chances are Washington did the same. Couple this with the fact that the two men at least tried to sell their hemp crops and we're obliged to conclude: Washington and Jefferson weren't merely marijuana farmers, they were marijuana dealers.
As a bonus, here are a couple quotes:
"Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country."
- Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President

"Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere."
- George Washington, U.S. President

Palin States Obvious, Bachmann Quits


The first of many contests for the GOP nomination had came and went but there is no clear winner (Mitt Romney beat Dick Santorum by just 8 points) and this year has seen its first quitter candidate in Michele Bachmann.  Bachmann, who came in sixth in the Iowa caucuses has decided to throw in the towel, or to put it in political speak, she has "suspended" her campaign (most likely to still rake in some cash from gullible donors).  What makes it even funnier is that Fox New's political analyst, the former half-term governor of Alaska and failed vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, decided to use her infinite wisdom and state the obvious regarding Bachmann's capability of becoming the next president of the United States.

"Down the road, unless something really turns around for her, I don't see a way to progress her candidacy to become the top tier candidate," Palin said.

You don't say. Palin gets paid millions to point out that the woman who received less than a quarter of the votes the generally-accepted most-unelectable candidate received will have an uphill battle to become one of the "top tier candidates." Palin could have easily just phoned this analysis in while she Googled the results.

If Bachmann (and Gingrich and Perry) were smart, they would throw their support behind not-Romney (because it seems that all conservatives hate Romney) hoping for a cabinet position.  It is my opinion that the best chance the Republicans have for defeating Obama in November would be to help Ron Paul win the election.  Given the choice between Obama and Paul, Republicans would no doubt support Ron Paul and some of his stances, such as his isolationist foreign policy and libertarian philosophies regarding personal freedoms, may resonate with independents not satisfied with the Democrats.  Throw in Paul's famed fan base and you have the makings of a decent candidate just so long he doesn't pick a dumb-as-dog-crap candidate like John McCain had done back in 2008.