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“Palin Is A Loser—But A Potentially Useful One”: Sarah Palin Backs Donald Trump, Murders Irony

Failed reality-television star Sarah Palin joined former reality-television star Donald Trump in Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday evening, not for a taping of Celebrity Apprentice or a casting for Dancing With the Stars, but to endorse him as the next president of the United States.

Dressed in a black overcoat and blue tie, the GOP frontrunner walked onstage at Iowa State University and gripped the lectern stamped with his name. “Wow, look at the press out there! They must think that a big event’s gonna happen today,” he said. “Wow! That’s a lot—it’s like the Academy Awards!”

He freestyled for 30 minutes, about his poll numbers and how Big League he wins, before welcoming a bedazzled Palin with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He called her “a spectacular person” and said her endorsement was “very special to me.”

Trump stood off to her left and looked on as she spoke, his arms dangling awkwardly at his sides. He smirked.

“Heads are spinning,” Palin began. “This is gonna be so much fun!”

Searching for meaning in this spectacle is like trying to find enlightenment in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. And the jokes, well, they write themselves but they’re not very funny, which, in a sense, is the key to Trump’s success in the Republican primary—and, perhaps, life in general.

Trump persists because he defies parody. He, like Palin, is in on the joke that is his public persona. The difference is he’s better at telling it than any lowly scribe or comedian. And he tells it not with a device as obvious as self-deprecation but with subtlety in his every decision, minor or Yuge, in his official capacity as The Frontrunner for the Republican Presidential Nomination.

Which is where Palin comes in.

“No more pussyfooting around!” she shouted. “He’s going rogue left and right, man, that’s why he’s doing so well!”

Once governor of Alaska, Palin’s own road to caricature began when she joined Trump foe John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign as his running mate.

Her tinny-voiced performance as a vice-presidential candidate was, at turns, erratic and self-destructive. By Election Day, it was difficult to distinguish between the real Palin and the version of her performed by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live.

For a time after McCain’s defeat, Palin enjoyed her status as an in-demand conservative star, too rogue to be tamed by the establishment elite. But her shtick, complete with props like Big Gulps and Dr. Seuss books, seemed to grow tired. TLC canceled her reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, after just one season. Palin sightings on cable news occurred with less and less frequency. A CBS News poll from January 2015 found that 59 percent of Republicans didn’t want her to run for president in this election.

To borrow a phrase from The Donald, Palin is a loser—but a potentially useful one, like conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, who was welcomed into Trump’s orbit in December.

Trump associates with sideshows and freaks as if to run on hot coals before the American public and media, who are left covered in sludge and scratching their heads. Unlike almost every politician before him, he is never tainted by these associations. No failed governor or tinfoil hat-wearing radio host or white supremacist making robocalls on his behalf can reflect poorly on his character, perhaps because we suspect he has none.

Trump befriended Palin before his formal foray into Republican politics began. In 2011, they were photographed eating pizza together in New York City—with forks. In August, Palin interviewed Trump, by webcam, for the right-wing One America News Network. He told her he liked her and her family “so much.”

There is overlap among their lackeys, too. Trump political director Michael Glassner previously served as chief of staff to Palin’s political action committee, and Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, was endorsed by Palin in 2014 when she ran for Congress in Texas.

Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant who worked on the campaign until August, said Trump only stands to gain from Palin’s public embrace.

“She is popular with evangelicals who dominate the process,” he told me. “Also blots out sun for [Ted] Cruz.”

At the very least, Trump loses nothing after Tuesday’s Big Show. At most, he starves Cruz—his central rival—of much-needed media coverage with two weeks to spare until the Iowa caucus. Unlike his other threats, like Ben Carson, Cruz has proved impervious to Trump’s put-downs. Despite weeks of Trump questioning Cruz’s citizenship, Cruz has hardly moved an inch in the Iowa polls, where he was beating Trump as recently as two weeks ago. As of this writing, Trump stands just a percentage point above Cruz in the Real Clear Politics polling average in the state.

Aiding Trump’s cause is Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who, sparring with Cruz over ethanol, said Tuesday that he hopes the Texas senator is defeated.

As surreal as Tuesday’s performance felt at times, it was guided by a certain logic. Even Palin, who flailed her sequined arms in the air for the crowd, equal parts pep and menace in her voice, sounded a nuanced battle cry. “You ready for a commander and chief who will do their job and go kick ISIS ass?” she screamed at one point.

But then she explained her plight, and the plight of all Trump true believers.

“Trump’s candidacy: It has exposed not just that tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, OK?” she said. “He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system, how the system really works.”

In Trump, Palin sees a leader—one who won’t be pushed off to the corner like she was. “We need someone new who has the power and is in the position to bust up that establishment,” she said.

She complained that establishment Republicans are as much to blame as the Democrats, and in their effort to thwart Trump, they have maligned all of conservative America.

“Funny, haha—not funny,” she said, seemingly out of nowhere. “But now what they’re doing is whaling on Trump and his Trumpeters, ‘Well, they’re not conservative enough’—Oh my goodness gracious, what the heck would the establishment know about conservatism?”

She said she, Trump, and those like them were “right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions, and our Constitution.”

“Doggone right we’re angry,” she said. “Justifiably so!”

She said Trump could be trusted because “he builds things, he builds big things, things that touch the sky, big infrastructure, things that put people to work.”

And when President Obama leaves office, she said, she hopes he heads back to Chicago. He’ll “be able to look up and there, over his head, he will be able to see that shining, towering Trump Tower. Yes, Barack, he built that and that says a lot! Iowa, you say a lot being here tonight supporting the right man who will allow you to Make America Great Again!”


By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, January 19, 2016

January 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In The Name Of Creating Jobs”: Corporations Are Hijacking Government With GOP Help And At Taxpayer Expense

After being swept into statehouses in the red wave of 2010, Republican Govs. Scott Walker, John Kasich and Terry Branstad each presided over the replacement of a state agency responsible for economic development with a less public, more private alternative. Arizona’s Jan Brewer did the same in 2010 after replacing Janet Napolitano, who’d been tapped for Obama’s Cabinet.  Walker’s Wisconsin, Kasich’s Ohio, Branstad’s Iowa and Brewer’s Arizona were only the latest to institute a “public-private partnership” approach to development: States including Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island, Michigan and Texas had done the same years earlier. Now North Carolina’s Pat McCrory, who entered the governor’s mansion in January, aims to do the same. A new report from a progressive group warns that means good news for the wealthy and politically connected, but bad news for just about everyone else.

“Privatization augurs against transparency …” Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy told Salon. LeRoy is a co-author of the new report “Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development,” which his group released Wednesday afternoon. Based on recent years’ scandals and controversies in several states, the authors conclude that “the privatization of economic development agency functions is an inherently corrupting action that states should avoid or repeal.” They argue the record shows that “privatization was not a panacea,” but instead fostered misuse of taxes; excessive bonuses; questionable subsidies; conflicts of interest; specious impact claims; and “resistance to accountability.” Goods Jobs First funders include unions and foundations.

A spokesperson for Gov. Kasich emailed Salon a one-sentence take on the report: “We don’t pay much attention to politically motivated opponents whose mission is to combat job creation.”

Kasich promised as a candidate to substitute a new entity, led by “a successful, experienced business leader,” for the existing Ohio Department of Development. The result, JobsOhio, features prominently in the GJF report. The authors note that its board included some of Kasich’s “major campaign contributors and executives from companies that were recipients of large state development subsidies.” They write that JobsOhio “received a large transfer of state monies about which the legislature was not informed, intermingled public and private monies, refused to name its private donors, and then won legal exemption (advocated by Gov. Kasich) from review of its finances by the state auditor.”

The authors also fault the Arizona Commerce Authority, whose first head reaped a privately paid $60,000 bonus and resigned after one year; and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which they charge has been “racked by scandals and high-level staff instability.” They cite accusations against WEDC including spending millions in federal funds “without legal authority”; failing to “track past-due loans”; and having “hired an executive who owed the state a large amount of back taxes.” LeRoy told reporters on a Wednesday conference call that, of the four newest public-private partnerships, Iowa’s was the only one to so far avoid significant scandal.

The report also slammed some of those four entities’ predecessors, including the Indiana Economic Development Corp. – GJF noted “a state audit found that more than 40 percent of the jobs promised by companies described by IEDC as ‘economic successes’ had never materialized” – and Enterprise Florida Inc.: while “more than $20 million in subsidies has gone to EFI board member companies,” in 2011 the Orlando Sentinel “reported that since 1995 only one-third of 224,000 promised jobs materialized.”

Gov. Scott’s office referred an inquiry to Enterprise Florida Inc., whose strategic communications director emailed that the group’s “efforts have resulted in an increase of competitive jobs projects established, private-sector jobs created and capital investment.” He noted that EFI “has received a clean opinion on its financial statements as conducted by its independent auditors and presented to EFI’s Board of Directors.” The offices of Govs. Walker, Brewer and Pence did not immediately respond to Wednesday evening inquiries.

“If we don’t know how the money’s spent, if we don’t get accurate assessments of the outcomes that we accept from our economic development subsidies or support, then there’s no way for us to evaluate the job they’re doing,” Donald Cohen, who leads the foundation- and labor-backed privatization watchdog In the Public Interest, told reporters on Wednesday’s call. “It’s fundamental to being able to manage our resources.” Cohen added, “When we’re talking about giving away the power and authority to give away public dollars, to make public decisions, then it is all the more important that public control be established in the strongest possible way.”

By “mingling private money or having board seats for sale,” LeRoy told reporters, public-private partnerships are “giving undue influence to a tiny share of mostly large companies that can afford to pay and play, potentially to the detriment of the focus of the entity.”

“You want people who are covered by ethics and disclosure and sunshine laws and oversight,” said LeRoy. “We know that government agencies aren’t perfect, but they by far are more accountable.” He also argued that public sector collective bargaining – which came under high-profile attack by Walker and Kasich – was also a check against abuse, because it “helps shield whistle-blowers and protect taxpayers.”

While GJF has proposed various safeguards for public-private economic development groups, it emphasized that its first choice would be for states to simply return their functions to fully public departments. “The economy is soft right now – we need to focus on the basics,” said LeRoy, rather than “tweaking the rules of a captive entity that co-mingles public and private money to get into all of these sort of gray areas.”


By: Josh Eidelson, Salon, October 24, 2013

October 25, 2013 Posted by | Corporations, Jobs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Practicing Without A License”: Iowa Governor Must Personally Decide Whether Each Poor Woman On Medicaid Deserves Abortion Coverage

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has approved a measure to expand his state’s Medicaid program under Obamacare, which will extend health coverage to tens of thousands of his poor residents. But there’s a catch buried in the Medicaid expansion legislation that the governor signed last week. Now, when low-income women on Medicaid seek insurance coverage for medically-necessary abortions, they’ll have to get approval from Branstad himself.

State-level Medicaid programs often exclude abortion from the health services they will cover for low-income beneficiaries. Just like the Hyde Amendment prevents federal money from directly funding abortion care, over 35 states have decided they don’t want state dollars to pay for abortion, either. Just 17 states allow low-income women on Medicaid to receive insurance coverage for most abortion services — the others, like Iowa, will only permit those women to be reimbursed for the cost of their abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.

But now Iowa is going a step further. If a woman who gets her health care through Medicaid has an abortion that falls under one of the exceptions in the state’s abortion coverage ban — if she has been a victim of rape or incest, if her fetus has fatal abnormalities that won’t allow it to survive outside the womb, or if her life will be put in danger unless she ends the pregnancy — she’ll need to have her case approved by the governor’s office. Presumably, Branstad will choose whether to approve or deny each woman’s request for insurance coverage for her abortion. It’s the first law of its kind in any state.

“This bill — now law — is outrageous on many different levels,” Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a recent statement. “Women in Iowa already face so many barriers in trying to get safe, legal abortion care. Now their governor will be deciding personally on a case-by-case basis, whether a woman’s doctor will be paid for providing a legal, medically appropriate, and constitutionally guaranteed procedure.”

Under Iowa’s current policy, a state agency already reviews claims for Medicaid funding of abortion services to make sure the billing is adhering to the law and doesn’t fall outside of the approved exceptions. As the Des Moines Register reports, that process will likely continue under the new law. But there’s a notable difference: “instead of the final call being rendered by the Medicaid medical director, the democratically elected and politically accountable governor will decide.”

Low-income women are unlikely to be able to afford bills for abortion care, which can exceed $1,000 dollars. If the governor decides that Medicaid won’t cover the cost of an abortion procedure, the medical providers will likely be forced to absorb the cost.

Ultimately, denying low-income women access to affordable abortion services simply exacerbates the economic divides that lead some desperate women to seek out illegal abortion providers. By passing a mounting number of state laws that prevent women from using their insurance coverage to pay for reproductive care — as well as by forcing abortion clinics out of business and driving up the cost of the abortion pill — lawmakers are essentially making abortion too expensive for low-income women to access at all.


By: Tara Culp-Ressler, Think Progress, June 25, 2013

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Reproductive Rights, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Daring The Sick And Needy”: Time to Protest Against Republican Governors For Shameful Threats

Greg Sargent reports on the decision of five Republican governors to screw impoverished and working people out of the health care they are supposed to get from Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As Sargent explains:

Iowa governor Terry Branstad has now become the fifth GOP governor to vow that his state will not opt in to the Medicaid expansion in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. He joins the ranks of Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Florida’s Rick Scott, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.It’s worth keeping a running tally of how many people could go without insurance that would otherwise be covered under Obamacare if these GOP governors make good on their threat.

The latest rough total: Nearly one and a half million people.

…And counting. Sargent rolls out the breakdown estimates for the five states, with Florida leading the pack with more than 683,000 citizens at risk by Governor Scott’s threat. Sargent adds,

Of course, it’s still unclear whether these governors will go through with their threats. David Dayen and Ed Kilgore have both been making good cases that they will. As Dayen and Kilgore both note, some of these GOP governors are relying on objections to the cost of the program to the states — even though the federal government covers 100% of the program for the first three years and it remains a good deal beyond — to mask ideological reasons for opting out…Dayen rightly notes that the media will probably fail to sufficiently untangle the cover stories these governors are using.

If there is a silver lining behind the shameful threats of the five Republican governors, it is that there is a good chance that their actions will provoke mass demonstrations in at least some of their states, hopefully right in front of the gubernatorial mansions, where possible. And wouldn’t it be justice, if those demonstrations were lead by people with serious health problems, bringing along their oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, dialysis machines and other health care devices, joined by nurses and hospital workers in uniforms for exactly the kind of photo ops these governors don’t want?

Perhaps the key player in mobilizing mass demonstrations against the Republican Medicaid-bashers would be the nurses unions, which did such an outstanding job of making former Governor Schwarzenegger eat crow in CA over staffing ratios in hospitals.

In a way, the five governors are daring sick and needy people to protest against being targeted for health hardships. Given the large numbers of those threatened in these states, it’s an arrogant dare they may regret very soon — as well as on November 6.


By: J. P. Green, Democratic Strategist, July 3, 2012

July 5, 2012 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Branstad Rule”: GOP Governor Uses Tax Loophole To Cut His State Income Tax Bill To $52

President Obama and Senate Democrats have been trying to implement the Buffett rule, a minimum tax on millionaires, which would remedy the problem of millionaires being able to pay lower tax rates than middle class families. One state lawmaker in Iowa thinks his state needs its own version — the Branstad rule — after Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) was able to pay just $52in state income taxes on his nearly $200,000 in income:

Gov. Terry Branstad’s $52 state income tax bill in 2011 is proof that fixes are needed in the tax system, Sen. Robert Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids said today.

“Some people talk about nationally we need a Buffet rule, maybe in Iowa we need a Branstad rule,” said Hogg, who additionally noted that a person making between $30,000 to $40,000 a year can expect to pay somewhere around $1,000 or more in state income tax.

Branstad was able to pay such a low amount because Iowa is one of just six states in the country that allows residents to write off their federal income tax payments from the previous year on their current year’s tax return. So Branstad was able to apply his 2010 federal income tax payments — which were paid on the salary he received from his prior job as the president of Des Moines University — to this year’s state income tax bill.

Iowa loses $642 million annually due to this provision, nearly one quarter of its total income tax revenue. More than half of the benefit of the deduction goes to the richest 5 percent of Iowans, while 76 percent of the benefits go to the richest 20 percent. “States should take a hard look at eliminating, or at least capping, their deduction because of the impact this lopsided tax policy has on state budgets and tax fairness,” the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy wrote. Branstad’s administration called his low tax bill an anomaly.


By: Pat Garofalo, Think Progress, April 25, 2012

April 26, 2012 Posted by | Taxes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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