Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 at Politicalgates Blog: Year in Review

By Blueberry T

This was the year of the Arab Spring and the awakening of the Occupy movement…let’s hope that these people’s movements will grow even stronger in 2012! Osama bin Laden was killed in a dramatic raid. A devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan led to a major nuclear crisis, the repercussions of which will continue for a long, long time. Famine threatened a million people in the Horn of Africa. There were massive floods, extreme droughts and devastating tornados. The GOP repeatedly tried to undermine the President, the economy and the middle class, and its candidates for the presidential nomination displayed the absurd depths to which the party has fallen. Here are some of the high and low points of the year:


The lingering glow of holiday goodwill was abruptly extinguished with the horrific shooting on January 8th in Tucson, leaving 6 dead and wounding many others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured by a point-blank gunshot to the head. President Obama led the nation’s mourning for 9-year old Christina Taylor-Green, U.S. Judge John Roll, Congressional staffer Gabe Zimmerman, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck and Dorwin Stoddard.

With all these dead and wounded, some people were surprised to learn that the real victim of this tragedy was Sarah Palin. Since she had targeted Giffords’ district in her Facebook call to arms (which is still on-line), many pointed out that Palin’s violent rhetoric and imagery may have stoked the violence that ensued; in fact, Congresswoman Giffords herself had called Palin out about this, referring to the map with crosshairs and saying that “…there are consequences to that action.” This led to Palin’s infamous “blood libel” speech on the same day as the memorial service. The video depicts a woman transparently trying to appear “presidential,” but inappropriately deflecting responsibility for her own actions while labeling as irresponsible and unamerican those who criticize her violent words and rhetoric.

“…especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundints (sic) should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

Even those who weren’t paying close attention to Palin could see the plain hypocrisy in her attempt to blame others for criticizing her. This self-serving, inappropriate video was one of the final nails in the coffin of her presidential aspirations.

Later in January, Politicalgates was born! (It is hard to believe that this tremendous blog is not even a year old.) Kathleen immediately got to work highlighting Egypt’s attempt to silence dissent by shutting down the internet during protests.


The Arab Spring continued to blossom and intimidation of the media became more overt and brazen. Patrick highlighted the economic roots of political angst in the U.S. and the Republican attacks on labor. Wisconsin started to fight back against anti-union legislation, sowing the seeds of protest that grew throughout the year. We also saw WI Governor Scott Walker's foolishness and Kasha Knish helped us become more aware of right-wing strategizing sessions led by the Koch Brothers. This approach also includes Michele Bachmann’s seminars on the Constitution, which highlighted potential conflicts of interest and bias of Supreme Court justices.

Frank Bailey’s book Blind Allegiance was leaked , giving an insider’s view of the dysfunction, vindictiveness and pettiness of Palin’s tenure as governor.

Nomad introduced us to the News Corp’s silent Saudi partner (here and here) and took us inside Chinese factories to explore how labor is exploited globally, and impacts on U.S.workers. Ennealogic posted about Bradley Manning and later highlighted his inhumane treatment AKA torture.


The huge story in March was the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the resulting nuclear power plants catastrophe (also here). This led to my post on the many reasons why nuclear power is not the answer to our energy needs.

As the Arab Spring continued and protests against union-busting grew in Wisconsin, similar union-busting legislation drafted by ALEC reached other states, including Alaska, where Congressman Don Young’s association with anti-American militia also came under scrutiny.

I reported on neo-con economic strategies favoring the wealthy and undercutting unions and the middle class; looked back in time for an inspirational progressive vision; and showed how deregulation weakens hard-earned protections that America needs to temper corporatist interests, to prevent, for example, unsafe working conditions such as those that led to the horrific Triangle Waistshirt Factory Fire, revisited eloquently by Mrs. TarquinBiscuitBarrel.

ProChoiceGrandma alerted us to the right-wing assault on women’s rights that is unfolding hand-in-hand with anti-labor legislation. Sunnyjane took on the topic of gun violence, its many child victims, and the rise of violent rhetoric since President Obama took office. Mike Huckabee’s careless comment emphasized this topic again.

Nomad took us back in time to the Iran-Contra Affair where he found roots of the rise of the extreme right. We began to turn our attention to Michele Bachmann, as she explored a presidential run. (We have now seen how well that turned out.) Rolling Stone reported on Jeremy Morlock’s gruesome “Kill Team.”


Babygate hit the news in a big way in April with the publication of Professor Brad Scharlott’s research paper, which was picked up by numerous media outlets, including Business Insider. Authors Christopher Hitchens and Geoffrey Dunn weighed in as the story finally hit the mainstream. The spiral of silence remained active and aggressive, though, as Julia O’Malley, Justin Elliott, Jason Linkins (aptly named dceiver) and Megan Carpentier came out of the woodwork to rush to Palin’s defense; Leadfoot gave them some advice about questions true journalists should ask.

Kathleen’s article on Babygate was published by The Guardian (!) and Ennealogic had the temerity to apply facts, logic and Occam’s Razor to Babygate.

Outside of the Palin sphere, one of the deadliest outbreaks of tornadoes in U.S. history occurred in late April, spawning 359 tornadoes including four EF5 (most severe) tornadoes; 346 people were killed. This is now known as the 2011 Super Outbreak. As we would see all too soon, this was not the end of severe tornadoes in 2011.


May began dramatically with President Obama’s announcement that Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in a high-stakes covert operation in Pakistan. Even Dick Cheney praised President Obama; but soon the claim from Sarah Palin and others was that President Bush deserved the credit for killing bin Laden. Oh, please, grow up! She tried to goad him into releasing photos of bin Laden’s body, proving once again how unfit she is to lead anyone out of a paper bag.

We heard quite a lot from the former half-term governor in May, as she ramped up her tease about whether she would run for the Presidency by making a number of speeches, bought a house in Arizona, coopted the Rolling Thunder event in Washington and embarked on a bizarre, media-hyped bus tour late in the month.

We had an excellent review of Geoffrey Dunn’s book, The Lies of Sarah Palin, and Patrick & Kathleen interviewed him. Kathleen also wrote about Frank Schaeffer’s book in which he discusses Palin, “the ultimate holier-than-thou Evangelical queen bee” who was “inflicted on the American public” by McCain. Prof. Scharlott continued to expose the many discrepancies in Palin’s Babygate tale; Kilob examined Palin’s motives for the hoax; and Patrick had some interesting back and forth with Julia O’Malley of ADN.

We also had great fun and a big scoop, as our very own Leadfoot went to Levi Johnston’s birthday bash in Las Vegas and interviewed him – Leadfoot made such an impression on Levi that he mentioned her in his book! Topping things off, we learned that Palin’s aide Rebecca Mansour confided some dirt about the Palin family to “Toki de la Vega,” a former Palin fan who had become disillusioned by her; thus RAM’s pronouncements found their way onto Politico.

In late May, one of the most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history tore through Joplin, Mo.


June began with many jokes about “Driving Miss Crazy,” talk about a Trump-Palin ticket after she huddled with the Donald over pizza in NYC, a media scrum around the “Rolling Blunder” bus tour, Piper’s rude behavior covered up by the media and, lest we forget, Palin’s garbled “history lesson” about Paul Revere’s ride: never a dull moment! Patrick put together some clips showing Palin at her (unintentionally) comedic best.

Ennealogic looked at who was most likely in on the Babygate hoax, Leadfoot reexamined Sarah’s trip to Dallas and Henry Blodget at Business Insider continued to explore the questions about Palin’s implausible tale of Trig’s birth.

Kathleen contrasted Palin’s dangerous mixture of politics and religion to the Founding Fathers’ beliefs that church and state must be kept separate and sunnyjane explored Palin’s role in the rise of Fascism in America. Palin’s long-awaited emails were (partially) released, albeit heavily redacted, but still showed her vindictive nature and propensity to smear people with inappropriate sexual innuendo, among other things.

How could I have totally forgotten about Bristol’s book? I guess I blocked it out of my mind…There was a lot of hype about poor Brissie’s tale of losing her virginity to that evil Levi Johnston. She is also establishing her trademark and “brand,” which might be (using her own words) “stoner” and “slut.” Dusty took a closer look at the Palin brand. Wrapping up the month, “The Undefeated” – a misnomer if ever there was one – was released, along with the trailer for Nick Broomfield’s documentary, “You Betcha!” From a Palin perspective, it’s been an entertaining year so far!


We celebrated Quitters Day along with Independence Day, and had some fun with Leadfoot, who can really teach Sarah Palin a thing or two about how to take a road trip!

I explored Sarah Palin’s apparent sexual pathology, a topic which I imagine could fill several volumes, and then looked into the question of whether Sarah Palin is mentally unstable, concluding that the available evidence indicates she is unbalanced, unhinged and a lot of other “un” words that Azure Ghost used to portray her in a brilliant series of posters!

We took a closer look at Senator Bernie Sanders, a true populist and Tweeter extraordinaire. Then The News of the World/ News Corp phone hacking scandal blew up, Hugh Grant spoke out brilliantly and we learned more of the ugly truth about Rupert Murdoch’s empire and its connections with the British Prime Minister and its disgusting tactics.

Ennealogic explored potential consequences of bad policies here, and here.

Palin’s seemingly endless “big tease” continued throughout the summer and she continued to project her own failings onto President Obama.

Kathleen reminded us of the huge humanitarian crisis unfolding in East Africa.


Gabby Giffords returned to Congress for her first vote since the shooting. Sunnyjane asked whether Dominionism is taking over the US government and Ennealogic vented about the economy, helping make sense of it at the same time. The GOP deliberately subverted the economy through its brinksmanship over the debt ceiling, leading to the first credit downgrade in history; let’s not forget the quotes in this post!

Rick Perry entered the presidential race and Kathleen delved into the subject of Dominionism here and here. Ebbtide named names about who is really behind the Tea Party; I revealed some surprising facts about Romney’s environmental record during his term as governor of Massachusetts, and Karl Rove roundly criticized Palin’s thin skin.

All of this took a back seat to Hurricane Irene, which devastated the mid-Atlantic Coast and parts of upstate New York and Vermont.


September began as August ended, with a lot of speculation about Sarah Palin and the usual series of fiascos about whether she would even show up for scheduled appearances. Geoffrey Dunn highlighted critical omissions in Frank Bailey’s book; Brad Scharlott offered a reward for irrefudiatable evidence that Sarah Palin was pregnant with Trig; and Nomad took a closer look at Palin’s “crony capitalism” meme.

Joe McGinniss’ book The Rogue came out and with it, Joe undertook a book tour with many radio, TV and print interviews, including discussions about Babygate. Politicalgates reported on the book here and here; Nomad looked at Sarah's manipulative MO and how she tries to discredit those who criticize her (including Joe); and Patrick and Kathleen investigated allegations that surfaced in the book, that Chuck Heath Sr. was involved in covering up sexual abuse of children in Alaska.

Levi Johnston’s book was released at the same time; Politicalgates hosted a live Q&A with the ghost writers, and Leadfoot reported on the book in her usual wise and witty way.


Patrick scooped Bloomberg Market’s bombshell exposé of the Koch Brothers dealings with Iran, in apparent violation of legal sanctions, as well as their shady business practices.

In Sarah Palin (who?) news, she announced that she was quitting running for President before she even started because God and family come first…hahahahaha! I revisited The Rogue, looking at it in the context of Joe McGinniss’ other work. JulaUSA posted about Joe’s excellent radio interview here.
Sarah wore her now infamous butt-bumpit (pelvic goiter), which did not escape notice in Dusty’s corner. Nomad followed the money funding Mitt Romney; took us back to the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings (here, here and here); and portrayed his father and the unraveling of the American dream.

Major flooding hit Italy, Thailand and other areas in October, causing massive destruction in Tuscany and Liguria, including the World Heritage site of Cinque Terra. Much of Thailand was submerged.
Fortunately, we were able to close out the month laughing – this time at Rick Perry’s inane performances in several interviews and the Republican debates in general, which don’t need any help from SNL, as annes_123 and Dusty pointed out so well.


Sunnyjane offered a 21st Century Declaration of Independence and Politicalgates covered aspects of the Occupy movement in a series of posts as we witnessed violence against and pepper spraying of peaceful protesters again and again, and urged the President to speak out against police brutality here as he had done during the Arab Spring.

Dusty revisited the GOP clown car but also gave us something more positive to think about, with her review of the Gabby Giffords/Mark Kelly book.

As November ended, Herman Cain’s (whose?) campaign imploded in slow motion before our eyes.


Patrick’s post on the Citigroup Plutonomy memos lit up Feedjit and Twitter as it provided clear evidence, in Citigroup’s own words, that what the Occupy movement has been saying is indeed true.

Republican candidates, ex-candidates and non-candidates continued their bizarre behavior in December, with Cain screwing up and dropping out; Romney flip-flopping (nothing new there); Palin (who?) impersonating Elmo and attacking the Bo Obama Christmas card; Rick Perry impersonating Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain and “It’s beginning to look a lot like Gingrich” (or maybe not). While Trump is no longer a candidate (but still might be), he is wreaking his particular brand of havoc on Scotland. We also got up close and personal with Joe Walsh.

Leadfoot found a brilliant graphic to illustrate income inequity in the U.S. Nomad picked up the political-economic nexus in his posts on the fallacy of Reaganomics (eg trickle down economics; see also here ).

The Occupy movement shone a spotlight on police brutality and the rise of the police state; Occupy continues to exert influence and win support despite many encapments being dismantled.

To close out the year in style, Ennealogic brilliantly summarized Palin’s not good, very bad year.


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