Palin’s Big Con and other short notes

I told you almost a year ago why it was obvious Sarah Palin wasn’t running: She was clearly working to build the fan/hater base of an entertainer like Rush Limbaugh rather than the majority coalition of a successful candidate.

Wednesday she finally broke the news to her fans. It was time: The filing deadline for the New Hampshire primary was coming up, and she had already milked her supporters for end-of-the-quarter gifts to SarahPAC.

Jon Stewart makes the case that this was all an intentional con: A lot of SarahPAC money ultimately comes around to benefit Palin personally. Bristol Palin said in June that Sarah had already decided. And yet the September fund-raising letter made it sound as if her candidacy depended on how much money she could raise. “That,” says Stewart, “puts us in Nigerian prince territory.”

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Stephen Colbert worries that he might have offended Karl Rove by suggesting that Rove’s PACs, whose design makes money-laundering possible, might actually be laundering money. “I have hurt Karl Rove,” Stephen laments. “Legends say you need an elvish blade to do that.”

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Last week I reacted to the drone attack that killed unindicted American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. This week we began to hear about the process for putting Americans on the government’s “kill list”.

According to Reuters, a “secretive panel of government officials” assembles the list.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

I feel safer already, especially knowing that this process is authorized by a secret memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. But why rant, when Glenn Greenwald does it so much better than I do?

I’m starting to get annoyed by all the people who talk reverently about the Constitution without having the faintest idea what it says. Witness Hank Williams Jr., who lost his gig introducing Monday Night Football when his Hitler/Obama analogy was too much even for the hosts of Fox & Friends, and he clarified by referring to President Obama as “the enemy”.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether ABC over-reacted, but Williams’ sacking has nothing to do with his “First Amendment freedom of speech” as he claimed in an indignant public statement.

If the government tried to punish Williams for his statement, that would be a First Amendment issue. But this is just free enterprise. When you’re the public face of a popular product, you have to stay out of controversy to avoid tainting the product with your issues. That’s why you don’t see Tiger Woods in commercials nearly as often as you used to.

Another guy with his foot in his mouth was Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. I’ll let the tell the story:

Brown was responding to a crack [Senate challenger Elizabeth] Warren made in Tuesday’s debate, when the Democrat was asked about Scott Brown using his centerfold spread in Cosmopolitan magazine decades ago to pay for college. Warren said “I didn’t take my clothes off” to pay for school.

Asked by the WZLX disc jockey for a response, Brown said “Thank God,” eliciting laughter from the DJs.

Where to start? (1) For what it’s worth, my hunch is that Elizabeth Warren looked pretty good when she was in college. (2) If Warren had posed nude, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, because she couldn’t be in politics. (3) While no individual male deserves the blame for society’s double standards, at a minimum we ought to be apologetic about taking advantage of them.

All of which leads to (4) Scott Brown is a jerk.

Here’s what I found disappointing in Rick Perry’s response to the Niggerhead Ranch controversy: I’m a little younger than Perry and grew up in a slightly less conservative region (rural Illinois rather than west Texas), but it’s clear in my memory that we were racists. All but a few whites were racists in those days. We said nigger and told nigger-jokes. It was the culture; you breathed it in like oxygen. (I wrote about this in more detail in 2007.)

So why not just admit it? Perry could say: “I grew up in a different era. I had a lot to learn about race and I’ve worked hard to learn it.” Is that too much to ask?

One more thing: Despite what some right-wing commentators are claiming, this has gotten nowhere near the coverage that the Obama/Jeremiah Wright story got in 2008.

The headlines say alarming things like Topeka Considers De-Criminalizing Domestic Violence, but the truth is only slightly better: City and county officials are playing chicken over who is going to prosecute misdemeanor domestic battery. Both think somebody should prosecute it, but they’re both threatening not to, and the side that blinks last will save money.

This is more of that “government waste” you hear so much about. Threatening to let wife-beaters walk is so much better than making rich people pay taxes.

More than half of what looks like investment in the official stats is really consumption in disguise: new houses, home improvements, and more places to shop.

Ezra Klein wrote a great piece on the early economic decisions of the Obama administration. Economists were slow to realize just how extreme the late-2008 collapse had been. That meant that the stimulus was too small and the predictions of the unemployment rate it would produce were too rosy. So it was easy for Republicans to claim the stimulus had failed and to block further stimulus.

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  • Bob Hurst  On October 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Of course Palin’s delay was a con, and the True Believer sheep lined up for the shearing.


  • By Public Shamelessness « The Weekly Sift on October 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    […] Palin’s Big Con and other short notes. Did Sarah Palin bluff running for president just to con money out of her fans? Jon Stewart thinks so. Stephen Colbert apologizes to a ham that looks like Karl Rove. The secret “kill list” for American citizens. Hank Williams Jr., Scott Brown, and Rick Perry deal with PR problems. Occupy Sesame Street. And more. […]

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