Saturday, January 30, 2016

We'ze All Just Lovn US Some Sarah? (A Whole Lotta Bad Sarah!)  Bill & Thom's Great Adventure (Kristen & Trey (-R's) Too!)  Bill Moyers Exposes Obama's Past/Asks Him To Repent and Tell All

Our buddy, Coyote Prime, just loves him some Sarah.

And don't we all?

(OK. Not so much Trumpf.)

My guess is that she and the rest of the klown korp kandidates will run the Republican kar off the road and into a deep ravine if not head-on into a Bernie locomotive.

Or a Hillary handshake.

It is time to take seriously the role that stupidity is playing in shaping GOP politics. We have followed the rampant lying of candidates, and we have followed the rhetoric of anger and hostility. Maybe it is time to look more closely at the role of stupidity. And there is no better figure to help us think about that problem than Sarah Palin.
Throughout her entire career she has surprised us with her stupidity. Remember when she couldn’t answer Katie Couric’s questions about which magazines she reads or when she wrote on her hand to help her remember her talking points at a Tea Party Nation event? And yet, in comparison to the nonsense that came out of her mouth at her Trump endorsement speech, those moments seem relatively lucid.

Almost everyone covering the story of her Trump endorsement was absolutely astonished by her incoherent blathering. The "New York Times" covered “the most mystifying lines” of her speech.

Of course it has to be said that seemingly on "Fox News," Palin gets treated like a serious statesman rather than an incoherent wingnut. Megyn Kelly might have had a hard time choking back chuckles when she interviewed Brit Hume about the speech, but she still conducted a straight interview where Hume simply talked about how the endorsement would affect the Ted Cruz campaign. For "Fox News" the speech was a significant political moment, not a blathering of embarrassing nonsense. But then again "Fox News" once used a picture of Tina Fey impersonating Palin as a graphic on a story on Palin — when Palin actually worked there.  So there is little reason to trust their coverage of her.

Thankfully, the late night comedy crowd was prepared to correct the failures of "Fox News" reporting once again. Larry Wilmore asked on “The Nightly Show” if Palin was drunk:  “I’m not even joking, you guys. She sounds wasted, right?” Wilmore claimed that Palin’s rambling, nonsensical speech couldn’t even be compared to a “word salad.”

James Corden compared her speech to a Dr. Seuss book — if Dr. Seuss “wanted to deport all of the Woozles.” Corden called her speech “particularly confusing,” and reminded his audience of the role that Palin played in destroying John McCain’s run for the presidency:  “You just know that John McCain is on his couch at home watching the TV being like, Donald – dude – this is a bad idea.”

Conan O’Brien referred to her speech as “rambling,” “strange” and “nonsense.

Even Jimmy Fallon, who typically side steps any serious political comedy went after Palin’s inane blather, saying that he “thinks” that Palin was endorsing Trump, but wasn’t sure. He then showed some of the highlights of her stupidity only to look confused and say “What?” He then poked fun at Trump who stood by Palin and looked like a fool.

Palin’s stupidity led to one of the very best bits yet in Trevor Noah’s career as host of “The Daily Show.” He reminded viewers that there was a perfect synergy between Trump and Palin: “Trump is not the first American candidate to get so far in politics knowing so little.  He is the second.” He then went on to describe Palin as the “original” He described the speech as “all over the place.” And then said that it was “as if a bag of Scrabble tiles had grown a body and come to life.”

In one of his best lines yet, he claimed that: “It’s like the only thing Sarah Palin hates more than Obama is punctuation. Nobody talks like that. It’s almost like she’s a malfunctioning robot.” He then went on do to a pretty hilarious impersonation of her talking to the people of Iowa as though they were cavemen who didn’t understand English.

And to the delight of many, Tina Fey reprised her Palin impersonation on “Saturday Night Live.":

Her angle? Just basically repeat verbatim what Palin said. That simple comedic tactic worked to effectively destroy the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008 — and it is working again now. When the nonsense Palin spews is repeated through Fey’s impersonating parody, it immediately reveals the depths of Palin’s stupidity.

The best Palin comedy came from seasoned Palin-basher Stephen Colbert who referred to Palin as “the original material girl” — since every time she makes a public appearance she offers more easy comedy material. “God, I have missed you! It’s like a magical eagle made a wish on a flag pin, and it came to life,” he exclaimed.  He, too, keyed in to the incoherence of her remarks: “Sarah Palin just guaranteed Trump the evangelical vote, because I think she was speaking in tongues.”  He then went on to Tase the part of his brain that understands sentence structure so that he could speak in Palin about the other candidates.

When Colbert hosted “The Colbert Report,” Palin was a frequent target. Recall when he called her “a f$%king retard” in reference to her support of Rush Limbaugh referring to liberals as retards on his show. That was the segment that also called her out for her use of a “hand-o-prompter” — notes written on her hand to help her in an interview.

One of Colbert’s best Palin takedowns took place back in 2011 when he mocked Mika Brzezinski for daring to wonder how long the media was going to let Palin continue get so much attention. Colbert’s rant — where he lectures Brzezinski on how she needs to buck up and cover Palin anyway– may be the best attack on her stupidity yet:  "I know you think this story has no purpose other than keeping Sarah Palin’s name in the headlines for another news cycle. I know you think she has nothing to offer the national dialogue and that her speeches are just coded talking points mixed in with words picked up at random from a Thesaurus.

I know you think Sarah Palin is at best a self-promoting ignoramus and at worst a shameless media troll who will abuse any platform to deliver dog-whistle encouragement to a far right base that may include possible insurrectionists. I know you think her reality show was pathetically unstatesmanlike and, at the same time, I know you believe it represents the pinnacle of her potential. And that her transparent desperation to be a celebrity completely eclipsed her interest in public service long ago.

I know that when you arrive at the office each day you say a silent prayer that maybe, just maybe, Sarah Palin will at long last just shut up for ten f******g minutes. And yet, here we are, five years later, and Palin is even less coherent than before and she’s back in spotlight supporting a candidate who has been shown to speak to his audiences at a fourth-grade level.

Exactly how long is the stupid epidemic going to spread within the GOP?  It’s like stupidity is the Ebola of GOP politics — a metaphor you know "Fox News" would use if they weren’t so busy promoting the stupidity themselves."

As Lee Camp explained on last week’s episode of “Redacted Tonight,” Trump’s level of speech is the lowest of any presidential candidate. He cites Trump in what seems like a direct channeling of Palin-speech “We have to build a fence. And it’s got to be a beauty. Who can build better than Trump? I build; it’s what I do. I build, I build nice fences, but I build great buildings. Fences are easy, believe me.” Camp explains that Trump “represents the continued dumbing down of America.” Trump’s moronic comments are also wrapped in lies. As Camp points out, Trump isn’t just talking like a fourth grader: “He is a dumb, dumb, lying fourth grader.”

Back in 2008, George Monbiot of "The Guardian" asked why morons are allowed to succeed in U.S. politics. “How did politics in the U.S. come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? … How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are?” Monbiot notes that Bush and Palin were candidates that flaunted their stupidity. He notes not just the dumbing down of the U.S. electorate, but also the celebration of stupidity that has emerged in force in U.S. politics.

Don’t forget that in the first GOP debate, Trump remarked that “We need brain.” He literally used a totally stupid phrase to argue for intelligence in government. How exactly does such a completely moronic statement go unchecked? Well it doesn’t, of course. After the debate there was a flurry of memes that emerged to mock Trump’s comment. And Twitter blew up with a host of citizen-satire that mocked Palin’s idiotic comments.

The Daily Currant highlighted Palin’s stupidity by running a satiric piece that compared her to a dumb school kid: “Sarah Palin has reportedly been stuck for several hours after licking a frozen flagpole outside a rally in Des Moines, Iowa this morning.” The piece went on, “I know Sarah Palin isn’t the brightest politician in the world,” says one Iowa Republican attending the rally. “But you would think that being from Alaska she would at least understand the concept of metal being cold.”

And, as mentioned, the professional TV comedians weighed in too. Every time we get GOP nonsense, someone calls it out. But so far, calling out the stupidity and laughing at it, isn’t hurting Trump or Palin. It doesn’t hurt because over time we have watched the GOP become dominated by the idea that truth, reason, and critical thinking are a liberal agenda designed to destroy our nation’s core values.

Here’s the irony though. Intelligence is actually a core value of U.S. politics, or at least it used to be. Elvin Lim has found that over time our political rhetoric has relentlessly declined. In fact, he notes a nosedive in intelligence in public speech since the founding fathers. President George Washington’s “Farewell Address” in 1796 was written at graduate-degree levels:  Grade 17.9, while President Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” in 1863 was at an 11th-grade level. Now we have Trump coming in at fourth grade. I’m guessing Palin doesn’t even rate that high.

It seems that the only way to understand Trump and Palin is to Tase not only the part of the brain that understands sentence structure, but also the part that understands anything at all.”

(Sophia A. McClennen is professor of international affairs and comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University. Her latest book, co-authored with Remy M. Maisel, is, "Is Satire Saving Our Nation? Mockery and American Politics." She can be found on Twitter at @mcclennen65.)

Oh, it's just too easy sometimes... lol
- CP

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

. . . the Sunlight Foundation has discovered that over one recent five-year period 200 of the most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions and, in return, got $4.4 trillion in federal business and support. Yes, $4.4 trillion - with a "t." That's an enormous return on their investment in lobbyists and politicians.

What's been going on in this country since Ronald Reagan agreed to the continued sequestration of the hostages in Iran, denying President Carter the ability to have them released prior to the 1980 election (and happening even before and afterward considering the CIA-directed murders in Asia, South and Central America (and the Iran-Contra guns/money for drugs Oliver North deals) has been so much more corrupt than anything most citizens can imagine that when they read the documentation of the massive amounts of money that has changed hands fairly recently in the pursuit of power and control, they are undoubtedly left in a state of nonsuspended disbelief.

Which probably leads to even fewer voters who can stomach entering the voting booths.

And no wonder.

(And how many years will pass before they get any relief?)

Let's Ask Obama to Give This Speech Next

Friday, 29 January 2016
By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company

Barack Obama once confessed to politics' original sin but has yet to atone for it. He now has an opportunity to do so.

I speak of his promiscuous relationship with money in politics. During his 2008 race for the White House, Obama opted out of the public funding system for presidential campaigns - the first candidate of a major party to do so since the system was created in 1976, after the Watergate scandals. His defection chilled hopes that public funding might enable everyday citizens to check the power of the super rich and their super PACs, countering the influence of "dark money" - contributions that cannot be traced to their donors.

A friend of mine, a prominent conservative Republican who champions campaign finance reform (yes, there are some and we get along marvelously!) recently told me he believes Obama's decision was a significant blow to the cause for reform. Six years ago, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court tried to finish it off when they ruled for Big Money - unlimited amounts of it - in their "Citizens United" decision.

In his first State of the Union in 2010, President Obama denounced "Citizens United," saying that it would reverse a century of law and open "the floodgates for special interests." He was just as blunt last year when he declared flatly that "Citizens United" was "wrong" and had caused "real harm to our democracy." Right on all counts. Public interest advocates Lisa Gilbert of "Public Citizen" and Stephen Spaulding of "Common Cause" recently reminded us that since "Citizens United" "special interests have spent over $500 million from secret, undisclosed sources."

Think of it as poison poured into the mainstream of democracy, just as toxic as the lead released in Flint, Michigan's drinking water.

Americans of every stripe know money corrodes our politics. In a poll last year, The New York Times and CBS found that 85 percent of us think the system for funding political campaigns should be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt.

President Obama knows it, too. Despite his own apostasy, he has spoken eloquently over the years against the present system.

Unfortunately, he has done nothing about it. He's gone AWOL in our biggest battle for democracy.

Which brings us back to his confession. During that first campaign for president, the "Boston Globe" reported that "In Obama's eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns - $296,000 of $461,000 - came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions…and many other corporate interests…"

Confronted with this by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," Obama replied: "I have said repeatedly that money is the original sin in politics and I am not sinless."

Far from sinless, he has in fact been a serial sinner. From repeated campaigns for the state legislature, through his one campaign for the US Senate, to his last campaign for president in 2012, money from organized interests poured into his coffers. The finance industry, communications industry, the health industry - they all had a piece of him, sometimes a very big piece. In his defense, Obama said he could not "unilaterally disarm." So like the young Augustine of Hippo, who prayed, "Lord, grant me chastity… but not yet," Barack Obama was saying that when the time arrived, he would sin no more.

Well, Mr. President, it's time. You have no more campaigns to wage. With a little less than 12 months left in the White House, you have the opportunity to atone for exploiting a system that you have deplored in words if not deeds. You can restart the engine of reform and even demonstrate that "Citizens United" can be tamed. Just take out your pen and sign an executive order compelling federal contractors to disclose their political spending. In one stroke you can put an end to a blatant practice of political bribery that would be one small step for you and one giant leap for democracy.

It's an open-and-shut case. In fewer than five minutes, you could face the cameras and announce your decision:

My fellow Americans. I have today signed an executive order requiring any company with a federal contract to disclose how much they spend on politicians and lobbyists, and who is receiving their money.
There are several reasons for this.

First, federal contracting is big business. In 2013 alone, the United States government spent about $460 billion dollars on contracting, with $177 billion of that going to just 25 companies. Since the year 2000, the top 10 contractors have raked in $1.5 trillion in federal contracts.

That's your money. All of it comes from taxpayers. And as the economic analyst Robert Reich reminds us, you are footing the bill twice over. You pay for these corporations to lobby for those contracts. Then you pay for the stuff they sell us. It's only fair that you see how much it costs for corporations to buy influence.

Second, there is a direct relationship between what a corporation spends on campaign contributions and the amount it receives back in government spending. Federal contractors have long been banned from contributing to federal candidates, parties or political committees, but that ban does not apply to their executives, shareholders and political action committees. In fact, since the "Citizens United" decision in 2010, contractors have been free to contribute unlimited amounts of undisclosed money to super PACs and the shadowy operations known as "social welfare organizations."

It's now possible for companies that get government contracts to secretly - let me say it again, secretly - spend untold amounts to elect and re-elect the very legislators who are awarding them those contracts. That's wrong. It's a terrible conflict of interest that undermines the integrity of government.

Some of you will remember that I said the "Citizens United" decision would harm democracy. I wish it were not so, but I was right; this secrecy in influence peddling by federal contractors is a bad thing. It wastes your money. It distorts the relationship between your government and business. It works against start-up entrepreneurs who can't afford to hire lobbyists or make political contributions while entrenched old-line companies hire former government officials - members of Congress and their staffs in particular - to steer business their way. Let's put an end to these practices, once and for all.

Third, an open democracy is an honest democracy. Disclosure is the foundation of public trust in government and business, while secrecy invites corruption. Even the Supreme Court justice who wrote the majority opinion for "Citizens United" acknowledged this to be true. Justice Anthony Kennedy belongs to another party than I. He adheres to a different ideology. But listen to what he wrote:  "With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of [political] expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation's political speech advances the corporation's interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are 'in the pocket' of so-called moneyed interests." I agree with Justice Kennedy.

You see, undisclosed money - "dark money" - is not "free speech" as its proponents claim. To the contrary. It's a threat to free speech, especially to citizens like you. Even if you believe money is speech, don't you and every other American have a right to know who's speaking? Secrecy weakens democracy's backbone, causing it to become brittle - so brittle that fractures are now commonplace. That's one reason Washington is broken and dysfunctional.

As Justice Kennedy himself - the author of the "Citizens United" decision, remember - recently admitted, our system "is not working the way it should." The executive order I have signed today is a step toward helping us see why it is not working and giving us a way to start fixing it. We are casting sunshine on a system badly in need of light.

Sadly, I must report to you that Republicans in Congress are opposed to sunshine. They prefer government do business in the dark, out of your sight and away from the prying eyes of reporters. But the Sunlight Foundation has discovered that over one recent five-year period 200 of the most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions and, in return, got $4.4 trillion in federal business and support. Yes, $4.4 trillion - with a "t." That's an enormous return on their investment in lobbyists and politicians.

Earlier this month I delivered my last State of the Union address to you. I told you that, "We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can't bankroll our elections. And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can't pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution."

My record on this issue may not inspire confidence, but I offer this executive order as an act of genuine penitence. And I pledge to you that in my remaining months as president I intend to take more steps to put right what I have helped to keep wrong. When I leave this office next January there will be no private citizen in the country more active in the fight to save our public life from the pernicious grip of private greed.

I am not a saint; I am a sinner. But I have been born again - again. And this time I will keep the faith. If you believe in democracy, join me.

(A note to Moyers' readers:  Some observers in Washington think President Obama may be about to sign such an order. We are not so sure. He reportedly came close in 2011 when the draft of such an order was leaked. The US Chamber of Commerce and other lobbyists roared and the president backed down. The only spunk he has shown on the issue since has been rhetorical. So he could once again capitulate. You can help to stiffen his spine by signing the petition sponsored by the non-partisan group Public Citizen.

As the president himself concluded in his most recent State of the Union address:  "Changes in our political process… will only happen when the American people demand it. It depends on you. That's what's meant by a government of, by, and for the people." OK, agreed. But in the meantime, let's tell the president to stand tall like a leader and do the right thing. Mr. President, sign the executive order compelling federal contractors to disclose all their political spending, including dark money.)

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