Showing posts with label Sarah Palin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sarah Palin. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2017

Barbarians IN the Gate

It didn’t take long to deface The Office of the Presidency, celebrity triviality “trumping” expertise and dignity.  To the victor belong the spoils and it is no more in evidence than the recent White House fĂȘte personally hosted by Donald Trump, his guests being Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock, whoever the latter two are.  Supposedly, Sarah invited Ted and Kid because Jesus was busy.  During their four hour run of the White House including a white china dinner they apparently discussed “health, fitness, food, rock ’n’ roll, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, secure borders, the history of the United States, guns, bullets, bows and arrows, North Korea, [ and ]Russia.”  It is reassuring to know our President is getting such good advice.

According to NPR, Mr. Nugent described the visit as follows: "Well well well looky looky here boogie chillin', I got your Shot Heard Round The World right here in big ol greazya— Washington DC where your 1 & only MotorCity Madman Whackmaster StrapAssasin1 dined with President Donald J Trump at the WhiteHouse to Make America Great Again! Got that?"

For a fuller account of the symbolic desecration of the White House with some official White House photographs go to Sarah Palin’s website.  This includes a photograph of the three mocking the portrait of former first lady Hillary Clinton.  According to the New York Times, an unnamed person “asked the three to extend their middle fingers beneath the portrait.  ‘I [Mr. Nugent] politely declined,’ he said. ‘Let the juxtaposition speak for itself.’” 

Meanwhile, apropos to this topic, a recent Palm Beach Post cover story revealed the contributions to Donald Trump‘s inaugural committee and not surprisingly, some of the larger contributors are right here in the Palm Beach area, the home of the so-called Southern White House (might as well be the White House given the extent of his time here).  The leading donor in this immediate area was billionaire Chris Cline whose private company has more than three billion tons of coal reserves.  No wonder he was happy to throw in $1million to the inaugural festivities. Presumably such contributions assures a place in the new swamp. It is truly a plutocracy of self-serving popular culture or corporate elitists.  

Jim Wright, the author of the Stonekettle Station blog has written a related essay on this topic,The Hubris of Ignorance.  Wright used to write obsessively in his blog but over time has turned more to Twitter for his incisive jabs.  Thankfully, he’ll still post a lengthy, thoughtful essay.  This is must reading from an ex-military man who sees the world, and the administration, for what it is.  A brief quote from his most recent entry summarizes this issue of expertise (or the lack of it) and “the cultivation of intelligence”: 

The Founding Fathers weren’t amateurs

 The men who freed this country from King George and then went on to forge a new nation were intellectual elites, the educated inheritors of The Renaissance and products of the Early Modern Age. They were able to create a new government because they were experts in government, educated in war and politics and science and religion and economics and social structures and all the hundreds of other things it takes to build a nation instead of tear one down.

Unlike their foolish descendants, the Founders knew that liberty and democracy and good government take far more than shallow patriotism.

Good government takes intellect, education, experience, curiosity, and a willingness to surround leadership with expert advice and support.

More than anything, it takes the cultivation of intelligence instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Talk about a scary Halloween.  We're fearing little goblins with Ted Cruz masks, demanding all the Candy or else, the "trick" being they will stay at our doorstep forever, blocking our exit until we relent. Other non-Cruz goblins better watch out too, once the Cruz clan congregates. 

Until now, I've been silent on the subject of Ted Cruz.  He burst on the political scene as did Sarah Palin, but Palin was clearly a hopeless lightweight who was "hired" to play a role.  She is a reality TV star, and that's about it.  But Cruz is very different, and I've been trying to make some sense of him, his views, and where he might be going.

He is perhaps the most disturbing politician I've witnessed firsthand (only vaguely remembering Joseph McCarthy from my childhood).  I thought Barry Goldwater was dangerous, but unlike Ted Cruz I don't remember him threatening to hold the US Government hostage.  Cruz's intransigent political views, with no compromise possible, is menacing enough. He is clearly an exceedingly ambitious politician who has all the requisite American-as-apple-pie views and the mannerisms of a preacher, attributes that appeal to his Tea Party / Christian Right followers.  (His recent hunting outing was amusing, perhaps not as well staged as Sarah-got-her-gun trained from a helicopter for moose in Alaska; he was in Iowa, the first stop for the Primary.  And he looks oh so manly with a gun.  Check out the pix here.)  Furthermore, Cruz is well educated and one can only assume that his behavior is being carefully choreographed to achieve the objective of running for the Presidency of the United States. 

His call to shut down the government and have the US default on its debts is a form of economic terrorism, i.e. the "threatened use of force [in this case, legislative force] a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons." (The Free Dictionary) Or at least the rubric of demagogue might apply -- "a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness." (Wikipedia)

I can't help but think of Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, depicting the rise of a Senator "Buzz Windrip" to the Presidency, a campaign built on the back of patriotism and traditional "American values" promising economic reform, and after election appoints his own personal army ("The Minutemen" -- perhaps the NRA would apply for the job?), curtails minority rights, institutes kangaroo courts to do his dictatorial biding, while also limiting the power of the United States Congress. 

No, I don't believe that is what would happen if the unthinkable occurs, Ted Cruz being elected President, but he has mainly used his Senatorial seat as a bully pulpit for his Tea Party views, so his political ambition seems to know no bounds.  And I also can't help but think of this very loose paraphrase of a quote (sometimes attributed to Sinclair Lewis, but no one is sure)  -- if some form of dictatorship ever comes to America, it will be with a cross wrapped in an American flag. (Whatever happened to the concept of the separation of Church and State?) 

One would hope that moderates in the Republican Party can put down this radical, take-all-or-else faction.  John G. Taft, who rightly calls himself "a genetic Republican" made the brilliant case for reigning in the likes of Ted Cruz in his Op-Ed column in the October 22 NYT. He expresses my concerns exactly.

Here are some bullet point quotes from the article....

* If he [Senator Robert Alphonso Taft, his grandfather] were alive today, I can assure you he wouldn’t even recognize the modern Republican Party, which has repeatedly brought the United States of America to the edge of a fiscal cliff — seemingly with every intention of pushing us off the edge.

* Throughout my family’s more than 170-year legacy of public service, Republicans have represented the voice of fiscal conservatism. Republicans have been the adults in the room. Yet somehow the current generation of party activists has managed to do what no previous Republicans have been able to do — position the Democratic Party as the agents of fiscal responsibility.

* Speaking through the night, Senator Ted Cruz, with heavy-lidded, sleep-deprived eyes, conveyed not the libertarian element in Republican philosophy that advocates for smaller government and less intrusion into the personal lives of citizens, but a new, virulent strain of empty nihilism: “blow it up if we can’t get what we want.”

* This recent display of bomb-throwing obstructionism by Republicans in Congress evokes another painful, historically embarrassing chapter in the Republican Party — that of Senator Joseph McCarthy.....There is more than a passing similarity between Joseph McCarthy and Ted Cruz, between McCarthyism and the Tea Party movement.

* Watching the Republican Party use the full faith and credit of the United States to try to roll back Obamacare, watching its members threaten not to raise the debt limit — which Warren Buffett rightly called a “political weapon of mass destruction” — to repeal a tax on medical devices, I so wanted to ask a similar question: “Have you no sense of responsibility? At long last, have you left no sense of responsibility?” [A paraphrase of what was asked of Senator McCarthy.]

So, we now wait until February 7, the next "deadline" for the debt ceiling (it's becoming a Yo-Yo economy with all these kaleidoscopic, Armageddon-like cut-off dates).  It will be fascinating (or perhaps even more frightening) to watch Senator Cruz's machinations as that fateful day approaches.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Game Change a Game Changer

Last night we went to a Game Change dinner with friends to view the much talked about film that is based on the best-selling book by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. The film focuses on just one part of the story, the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate and the subsequent campaign which revealed how woefully under-vetted Palin was.

As a movie, it is terrific, with great acting, starring Julianne Moore, who plays Sarah Palin so accurately (not as a Tina Fey caricature -- but rather so realistically that one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between Moore's portrayal and Sarah Palin herself), Ed Harris as John McCain and Woody Harrelson as his campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, The supporting acting was also first-rate, particularly Sarah Paulson as Nicolle Wallace the senior advisor for the McCain campaign who had to suffer as Palin's "handler." Jay Roach, the director, kept things moving at a lively pace so there was never a dull moment, an interesting film to add to his prior credits such as the Austin Powers films! The characters are so believable, Moore, Harris, and Harrelson being almost exact facsimiles of the people they portray.

So, how much is the film (and therefore the book) a facsimile of the truth? Much of the "truth" relies on the recollections of Steve Schmidt the chief strategist of the McCain/Palin 2008 presidential campaign, but Danny Strong, the screenwriter, also independently interviewed scores of people to corroborate the facts. One has to admire Schmidt for fessing up, the truth being Palin was selected for her gender and pizzazz. If she thinks North and South Korea is the same country or Britain's head of state is the Queen instead of the Prime Minister so be it. To Schmidt's credit, his regret at having gotten the Palin ball rolling led to his disclosures, particularly after Palin's Going Rogue was published, basically freeing him to talk.

An excellent follow up to seeing the film is the C-Span panel discussion on the film adaptation,consisting of the book's authors, Heilemann and Halperin, Roach, the director and executive producer, Steve Schmidt, and Danny Strong, screenwriter and co-executive producer. Particularly interesting is Roach's comments on the selection of Moore, Harris, and Harrelson, the perfect serendipity of it all. One of Roach's favorite scenes in the film is Moore as Palin watching a YouTube clip of SNL's Tina Fey portraying Sarah Palin, commenting that he's hoping Palin will see Game Change, watching Moore portraying her watching Fey's portrayal. An infinity of mirrors, befitting her media star status.

For me, the film just underscores the ludicrousness of Presidential/VP candidate selection and election campaigning that seem to rely upon the gullibility of the American electorate and their susceptibility to mass persuasion. And this is not just to finger point at the GOP as the same kind of machinations undoubtedly go on in the Democratic camp. But the GOP primaries have been especially transparent in this regard, a stain on the democratic process.

When Palin was picked nearly four years ago, I wrote: "If, indeed, the VP selection is the most critical decision of a Presidential wannabe, McCain demonstrates how seriously deficient his judgment may be. Given his age and his prior health problems, I think we, the voters, have to consider Governor Palin’s credentials as if she is running for the Presidency.....No doubt Sarah Palin is a bright, hard-working person – she certainly seems to come across as such in the media, but to possibly cast her in the role of the President of the United States seems to be just downright irresponsible by Senator McCain and as politically calculated, and demonstrating bad judgment, as some of his television ads." Game Change just reinforces what I believed at that moment.

The film concludes with the not so prophetic remark of Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, "she'll be forgotten in a couple of days." But we all know the rest of the story. And the film, Game Change is a game changer in that it's probably all true, quite unlike much of politics itself.

Friday, December 10, 2010

She's Quick on the Trigger

With targets not much bigger than the president's deficit commission. I don't think I've ever actually READ anything by Sarah Palin, although I've seen her paraded before TV cameras, so it was with some interest that I noted "her" opinion column in the Wall Street Journal, Why I Support the Ryan Roadmap; Let's not settle for the big-government status quo, which is what the president's deficit commission offers.

I had expected a folksy take on the topic in keeping with her TV persona, perhaps sprinkled with homey references to Alaska wildlife, or more aptly the disappearing wildlife when Sarah Oakley has her high-powered rifle with telescopic sight at her side, but instead was greeted by a more or less professionally written piece of journalism, quite possibly with the help of the people at News Corp which owns the WSJ and also owns Fox which in turn employs Ms. Palin. She or her ghost writer is "disappointed" in the deficit commission's recommendations but commends the commission for exposing "the large and unsustainable deficits that the Obama administration has created through its reckless 'spend now, tax later' policies." I go speechless when reading such an accusation, feeling like Melville's Billy Budd confronting the evil Claggett. Sarah, do you really believe what "you" wrote? Not only are the deficits at least partially shared by your Party (not to mention the National Debt most of which could be pinned on the Bush era), but Congress now has the opportunity to roll back some of the tax forgiveness for the super wealthy, both in terms of incremental tax rates and the inheritance tax, and your Party is stonewalling that prospect. However, pardon my impertinence, "a man never trifles / with gals who carry rifles...Annie Get Your Gun.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All the News That's Feigned to Print

The Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Rupert Murdoch owned HarperCollins Publishers will sponsor a 10-day book tour by their author, Sara Palin, who is a contributor to the Rupert Murdoch owned Fox News.

The occasion is the publication of her book "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag," a follow-up to her best-selling "Going Rogue." In addition to those credentials for her inevitable run for the Presidency, Ms. Palin is also the star of her own reality TV show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Her daughter Bristol is indirectly campaigning by her appearance on "Dancing With the Stars," another prime time "reality" media production.

In addition to those qualifications, Ms. Palin has a bachelor's degree in communications, having attended a number of colleges in the pursuit of that degree, was a TV newscaster, and served as a mayor of a town of some five thousand people and for a couple of years as governor of Alaska with a population about the size of El Paso, Texas. She resigned her governorship to pursue her interests in self-promotion.

Besides having Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire as a backer, she owes her political career to John McCain who brought her to the national stage in a desperate act to carry the 2008 presidential election.

Can this "rogue" politician continue to skillfully manipulate public opinion by charisma alone and a friend in high places? And will she continue to supply News Corp with all the fodder necessary for higher ratings, greater circulation and therefore more advertising and sales? A nice symbiotic partnership? You Betcha'


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Press is the Enemy

Amazing to read some of the latest Nixon tapes, particularly his comments on the media and academics, a leitmotif of the 2008 campaign, as Republicans condemned the media and intellectual conservatives deserted the Party.

"Never forget," Nixon tells national security adviser Henry Kissinger in a taped 1972 Oval Office conversation, "The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy," he repeated. "Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it."

Here is Sarah Palin’s response to Katie Couric’s question “Do you think the coverage of you has been sexist?”

No, I don't. I mean, I know that there--it's obvious there's some double-standards here, you know, in terms of what the media has been doing, but I think that's more--I think more attributable to just the media elite, the Washington elite, not knowing who I am and just asking a whole lot of questions and not so much based on gender though, but based on just the fact that I'm not part of the Washington herd.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

President Palin?

I am not the first to make this observation – in fact it is the most obvious, knee jerk reaction to John McCain’s pick of a VP running mate, but I might as well add my two cents. If, indeed, the VP selection is the most critical decision of a Presidential wannabe, McCain demonstrates how seriously deficient his judgment may be. Given his age and his prior health problems, I think we, the voters, have to consider Governor Palin’s credentials as if she is running for the Presidency.

I have expressed my disgust with Washington and its failed policies elsewhere in these pages:

And I stated my support of Barack Obama several months ago:

No doubt Sarah Palin is a bright, hard-working person – she certainly seems to come across as such in the media, but to possibly cast her in the role of the President of the United States seems to be just downright irresponsible by Senator McCain and as politically calculated, and demonstrating bad judgment, as some of his television ads.

Just my two cents.