Saturday, August 31, 2013

President Obama Speaks Live Today About The Situation In Syria - Full speech and transcript

By Kathleen

Today at 1: 15 pm EST President Obama will speak to the United States nation regarding the situation developing in Syria. 

As President Obama's address is likely to have long standing implications for the people of Syria I am leaving a live feed here on the blog so that readers have the opportunity to comment as the President speaks in real time. 

I will update the post later.


Here is the clip with the full speech by President Obama:

Full transcript (h/t honestyingov):

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people. Our intelligence shows the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. And all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see — hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead. All told, well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundred of them were children — young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government.

This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm. In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted.

Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. But I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.

Our military has positioned assets in the region. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order.

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.

Over the last several days, we’ve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they’ve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.

In the coming days, my administration stands ready to provide every member with the information they need to understand what happened in Syria and why it has such profound implications for America’s national security. And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote.

I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable. As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action.

Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective. We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy.

A country faces few decisions as grave as using military force, even when that force is limited. I respect the views of those who call for caution, particularly as our country emerges from a time of war that I was elected in part to end. But if we really do want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage, then we just acknowledge the costs of doing nothing.

Here’s my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price? What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world’s people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced?

Make no mistake — this has implications beyond chemical warfare. If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorist who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?

We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us. So just as I will take this case to Congress, I will also deliver this message to the world. While the U.N. investigation has some time to report on its findings, we will insist that an atrocity committed with chemical weapons is not simply investigated, it must be confronted.

I don’t expect every nation to agree with the decision we have made. Privately we’ve heard many expressions of support from our friends. But I will ask those who care about the writ of the international community to stand publicly behind our action.

And finally, let me say this to the American people: I know well that we are weary of war. We’ve ended one war in Iraq. We’re ending another in Afghanistan. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military. In that part of the world, there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that’s why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war.

Instead, we’ll continue to support the Syrian people through our pressure on the Assad regime, our commitment to the opposition, our care for the displaced, and our pursuit of a political resolution that achieves a government that respects the dignity of its people.

But we are the United States of America, and we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus. Out of the ashes of world war, we built an international order and enforced the rules that gave it meaning. And we did so because we believe that the rights of individuals to live in peace and dignity depends on the responsibilities of nations. We aren’t perfect, but this nation more than any other has been willing to meet those responsibilities.

So to all members of Congress of both parties, I ask you to take this vote for our national security. I am looking forward to the debate. And in doing so, I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment.

Ultimately, this is not about who occupies this office at any given time; it’s about who we are as a country. I believe that the people’s representatives must be invested in what America does abroad, and now is the time to show the world that America keeps our commitments. We do what we say. And we lead with the belief that right makes might — not the other way around.

We all know there are no easy options. But I wasn’t elected to avoid hard decisions. And neither were the members of the House and the Senate. I’ve told you what I believe, that our security and our values demand that we cannot turn away from the massacre of countless civilians with chemical weapons. And our democracy is stronger when the President and the people’s representatives stand together.

I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage. Today I’m asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation.

Thanks very much.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The overlooked, but very valuable book about Sarah Palin: "Unlikely Liberal" by former Alaskan journalist Matthew Zencey

By Patrick

First of all, let me apologize for not having put up a post during the last two weeks. We should have put up an open post, but I am not the biggest fan of open posts and always thought that I will write a new post very soon. However, due to "restraints" of real life, I didn't come round to do it in the end. Maybe it was also a case of "writer's block", I don't know.

While we entertain and educate ourselves by discussing a lot of diverse topics in the comments, I thought it would a be good idea to revisit our favorite subject, Sarah Palin - the woman who left Alaska to seek fame and fortune and who was lucky enough to find a group of hardcore fans who are themselves so detached from reality that they believe every word she says and apparently also believe that she is the new messiah. It is just too interesting to witness the demise of this woman whose tweets and facebook post used to keep the mainstream media busy for days, over and over again. It now seems like light-years ago, but of course that only happened "yesterday." Today, however, only a handful of usually minor internet outfits continue to care about what she does or says. Let's just say that the stock of "Palin Inc." is not exactly rising.

So why continue to write about her? Well, first of all, Sarah Palin loves to connect herself with other right-wingers who might be far more dangerous than she ever was (dangerous at some fleeting moment in the past, that is). In 2012 she pretended to support the old scoundrel and adulterer Newt Gingrich and his martian wife, and now she is in love with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. The good thing about all this is that one can be sure that anyone who Sarah picks or supports is either a rabble-rouser, liar, demagogue, extremist, adulterer, or all together. She has a real talent for picking the worst.

Regarding Rand Paul, let me add that I am absolutely disgusted about his very own and special brand of "libertarianism." He simply turns it into an ideology which wants to give all power to corporations, and demonizes anything positive a government could do, because this apparently would be "tyranny". Ever since I listened to an interview a long time ago, in which Rand's father Ron Paul said that the existing system of universal healthcare in the United Kingdom is "tyranny", I was thoroughly disgusted by those people who basically promote what could be called a system of "corporate anarchy." No rules, no protection, because don't you know, we want our "liberty." Unfortunately I can't find this interview with Ron Paul right now, but I clearly remember him saying that about healthcare in the United Kingdom. 

In addition, it's worth to continue to write about Sarah Palin simply because there is still so much to discover and to discuss. For the example the "official record" of her time as Governor of Alaska. Her fanatic fans still love to spam the blogs with lists of her glorious "accomplishments", but it's actually not easy to come across a fairly objective account about what really happened back then when Sarah was Governor and when Alaska still was the land of wine and honey, as her rabid fans apparently believe.

But in fact, such a detailed account exists, and it is the overlooked book "Unlikely Liberal" by former Alaskan journalist Matthew Zencey, who covered Alaskan politics for twenty years, for example as the editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News and who also knew Sarah Palin very well. 

The book's apparent lack of success in my view was probably caused by two main reasons: First of all, the book came far too late, which was unfortunate for the author. It was only published in September 2012, when the broader public simply wasn't interested any more in Sarah Palin's legacy as Governor of Alaska. Secondly, the choice of title for this book simply is awful. While it undoubtedly is one of the main premises of the book that Sarah Palin followed certain "liberal policies" while being the Governor of Alaska, the title of the book really should have reflected the fact that the author actually attempted to write an honest in-depth account of Sarah Palin's political actions while she was Governor. I just think that the title was a bad choice.

Matthew Zencey succeeds: The author soberly presents the facts, trying to be as objective as possible. The book is easy to read, well-written, nicely organized in smaller, precise chapters and contains a huge amount of facts. It is more than obvious that factual accuracy was of the utmost importance for the author. There are many fascinating facts to discover, even for "experts." The book clearly has no serious competitor in the ranks of the dozens of books which have been written about Palin, as no other book focuses on Sarah Palin's record as Governor in such detail. If the book had been published for example in early 2011, it probably would have been quite a big success, as far as sales are concerned.

As an example, let's mention the reasons for Sarah Palin's resignation. Sarah's fans spend much of their time screaming on the blogs that the evil liberals wanted to "bankrupt" Sarah and that she had no other choice than to resign. At Politicalgates, we also wrote about the fact that this claim has long been debunked. Matthew Zencey offers some addition insights and writes:

So why did Sarah Palin resign?

Was it because she spent so much time and personal money fighting ethics charges? Did being in the spotlight bring too much harsh scrutiny of her kids? Was it the chance to make real money, not her piddling $ 125,000-a-year salary as governor? Was it because she had accomplished the big things she'd set out to do? Was it her fading popularity? Her loss of political support in the legislature? The prospect of being stuck doing the boring work of passing a budget and other routine matters of state governance? Was it so she could have more time to burnish her national image? Did she think that being in office forced her to be "politically correct"? Was being the mom of a special needs kid too much while maintaining a full-time job far from her home? Did she simply hate the job?

In my humble opinion, the answer is all of the above.

Palin gave many of the above answers in public, and some of them in private. Here's what she told her Going Rogue writer, Lynn Vincent:

Created: 7/11/2009 7:36:23 AM
Subject: Re: Important dot-connecting

(By leaving I'm) "sending the message that 1) I'm not a professional politician; 2) I've accomplished the goals as Governor that I promised; ethics reform; mandated new clear and equitable share of Alaska's resource development for Alaskans; built vehicle to get gasline built; slowed the rate of growth of govt; eliminated personal luxuries the state used to fund for governors so we could set the example ... So handling the reins to Sean is just sensible and fair and efficient instead of suffering Alaskans through a lame duck session!" (Her emphasis.)


As is often the case with Palin, her complaints included exaggerations and problems of her own making. Instead of commuting from Wasilla, she could have chosen to spend her term living in state-paid housing - the governor's mansion in Juneau - just a couple of blocks from her office in the state capital. (Regaring her claim that she "can't afford to have security at my home"): She actually reduced her state trooper security detail, as documented in the Troopergate investigation. She could have had state-paid security at her home if needed - but it would have undercut her populist image as an ordinary Alaskan forgoing perks, accessible to the people.

The vast majority of Palin's legal fees were to defend herself in Troopergate, after she filed a formal ethics complaint against herself. It's unclear why she needed to pay her lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour, for example, to attack an ethics complaint filed under the pseudonym of a British TV character.

Palin complained that media scrutiny of her kids was grwoing intolerable, even though her status as a mother - a family-values hockey mom with a special needs kid - was an integral part of her political "brand", and she routinely displayed her children at political events.

Unfortunately, Matthew Zencey, as far as I could see, doesn't mention the additional detail we reported in February 2012, another fact which renders the usual claim that Sarah Palin was on the way to go "bankrupt" even more ludicrous:


It it simply untrue that Sarah Palin was forced to pay the costs for her legal defense against the ethics complaints herself, was forced to "bankrupt her family" and was subsequently driven out of office, as Palin herself claims in an email from January 2, 2009. This often repeated myth can easily be debunked with hard evidence.

When Sarah Palin's first legal defense fund, the "Alaska Fund Trust", was declared unethical by the state-assigned investigator Tim Petumenos in June 2010 after an ethics complaint by Kim Chatman, Petumenos published an extensive report, and for the first time the following was revealed in public: The State of Alaska offered to pay for the defense against the ethics complaints, and even entered into a contract for legal services with Palin's lawyers, for an amount "up to $ 100,000 at public expense." This would have given Sarah Palin enough resources to mount a solid defense, but as investigator Petumenos notes: "No invoices were submitted."

The reasons for this untypical behaviour by Sarah Palin are completely unclear. The lawyers claim that it would have been "too difficult to separate the functions of representing Governor Palin in her official capacity in the pending state-related matters, and representing her in other related campaign or partisan matters beyond the scope of the state contract." This explanation is nonsensical, as every lawyer knows who has ever invoiced billable hours.

Screenshot from the Petumenos report:

Sarah Palin instead choose to set up her unethical "Alaska Fund Trust."

The meme that Sarah Palin was forced to bankrupt herself is therefore pure propaganda.


Back to the current post:

Therefore Sarah Palin not only had by far the biggest expenses through filing an ethics complaint against herself as a tactical political move after the bipartisan Branchflower investigation concluded that she had abused her powers, but she also rejected a huge sum of money which was offered to her to defend herself against ethics complaints. This reminds us of the old Palin rule: Her version of reality has to be correct, because the rest of the world is always lying (and always hates her).

It is therefore only consequential that in her private emails and her resignation speech the subject of "bankruptcy" found little or no mention.

Well, there are many other interesting parts of this book which are worth quoting, but let's stop here. Matthew Zencey delivered a convincing and very valuable book, which unfortunately did not get the attention it deserved. But as I said, it simply came too late.

There seems to be virtually no serious person left in America who could imagine a political future for Sarah Palin. Even Bill Kristol is fed up with her.

But Sarah Palin still tries to influence the political discourse, and therefore her own record should not be forgotten. She was not the "hottest Governor", but certainly the "weirdest Governor."

Finally, you might ask whether Matthew Zencey mentions some of Sarah Palin's "private scandals", for example babygate, the desperately suppressed fact that Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy with Trig (which virtually half of Alaska knows about).

The answer is: No, these "private" matters are not being discussed in the book. However, Matthew Zencey preferred an "honest" solution for this "problem", for which I give him credit. He writes in the preface of the book:

You'll have to look elsewhere if you care about Bristol's pregnancy, the feud with Levi, Trig's birth, the state of Palin's marriage to Todd, her career in high school basketball, Piper's progress in school, and other parts of Palin's personal life. In my view, a politician's personal life is a public issue only if it reveals hypocrisy on a political question or significantly compromises his or her ability to do the job.

Of course disagree with the second sentence, because the faked pregnancy definitely does question Sarah Palin's ability to do the job, but I also think it was a very good idea by Matthew Zencey to address those topics directly in this manner right at the beginning of the book.

(For us "insiders", the following sentence in the "acknowledgements" of the book is also pretty interesting: "I appreciate Elizabeth Demer's willingness to recommend publishing my work and her guidance on the manuscript.")

In conclusion, I can highly recommend Mathew Zencey's book. Together with "The Rogue" by Joe McGinniss, "The Lies of Sarah Palin" by Geoffrey Dunn and "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin" by Frank Bailey, it provides invaluable insights and facts. Also, concerning the topic of "Alaska, the oil and Sarah Palin" (as well as other topics), there is also the very detailed book "Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in Alaska" by Tony Hopfinger and Amanda Coyne, which we have read and can also recommend.

Sarah Palin may fade from the spotlight, but a look at her botched legacy is always a good idea, especially now where she openly pals around with politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Hopefully they have heard about the famous Palin-curse...



Many thanks to our wonderful reader JCos for this great variation of the above photo featuring Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A C4P Fantasy: Sarah vs. Hillary 2016

by Sunnyjane

What in the name of little green apples, you have every right to be thinking, is Sunnyjane on about now?   Hmpf!  Don't blame Sunnyjane.  This brilliant concept came from one of our dear friends over at the Urinal, and while it's true that those folks need to turn on the Weather Channel to confirm for themselves that it's raining outside, I decided it was incumbent upon Politicalgates to thoroughly investigate such an unlikely scenario as a 2016 campaign between Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Tea Party candidate Sarah Heath Palin.  Hey, we just might be dissuaded from our preconceived liberal  notions, right? 

To whit, a Pee Ponder recently declared that in a three-way debate between Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Sarah Palin, that their queen would win -- no contest.  I think Bush and Clinton would concede the contest to Sarah forthwith if the debate moderator's questions dealt solely with the art and science of grifting, the practical benefits of breast enhancement/push 'em up bras, and the commonsense value of being totally stupid. 

I'm going to leave Jeb out of this analysis.  Not only has his mother said there have already been too many Bushes in the White House, but Jeb's foray this spring into the will he/won't he run in 2016 was short-lived and uninspiring because he was merely hawking his new book about immigration wars.  [Why is it that Republicans always have to be at war with something?]

But even more recently, C4P was touting an article proclaiming that, compared to Palin's,  Clinton's résumé was thin.

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one*
Wasilla High School, Class of '82
Main South High School, Class of '65

  High School senior photos

Both of our fantasy candidates -- neither of whom has yet declared herself a candidate for 2016 -- played sports in high school.  And there the comparison between the two pretty much comes to a screeching halt.

Hillary Clinton:  Hillary was very involved in her schools' social and academic life throughout her primary and secondary education years.  As a Brownie and Girl Scout, she earned many awards for her achievements.  In high school, she participated in the student council, the school newspaper, and was selected for the National Honor Society.  In her senior year, Hillary was a National Merit Finalist and ended up graduating in the top five percent of her class.

Sarah Palin:                            This page intentionally left blank.

Most people go to college to further their education -- by opening their minds -- but some just go to get a degree that looks fairly acceptable on a résumé completely devoid of other academic, civic, or social accomplishments.                    

Somewhere in the far-out collegesphere
So stay with me here, as we take Sarah's circuitous route on her path to higher education: from high school in 1982 to the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, North Idaho College, University of Idaho, Matanuska-Susitna College, and back to the University of Idaho where -- supposedly -- they gave her a bullshit bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in 1987. 
How much emphasis in journalism there was is still, um, debatable.

Wellesley College, '65-'69
College served Hillary Rodham well, and certainly opened her mind.  Having been raised in a Republican home, her political leanings were, of course, conservative.  However, her mother wanted her to have an independent, professional career and her father, otherwise a traditionalist, was of the opinion that his daughter's abilities and opportunities should not be limited by gender.

Rodham's choice of political science as a major, plus her changing liberal attitudes towards the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, led her to the progressive activism of the times.  She became the first  student in Wellesley's history to deliver the commencement address, which received a seven-minute standing ovation.  She was awarded a bachelor's degree, with departmental honors in political science.

In an interesting coincidence, Hillary Rodham spent that summer after graduation from Wellesley in Alaska, washing dishes at Mount McKinley National Park and gutting salmon at a processing plant in Valdez.   She was fired after complaining about unsafe conditions at the plant, but it immediately shut down.  [Chortle]

She entered Yale in the fall where her studies, internships and activism led her to a life-time advocacy for children's rights issues.  Hillary received her Juris Doctor degree in 1973.

The Post College Years


Sarah Heath spent a brief period in broadcast journalism for television KTUU-TV in Anchorage, where she honed her foreign language skills while describing basketball players filding the ball and hittin' the basket.  She also wrote sports reports  for The Frontiersman, though they seem to have disappeared into the archives of God, Don't Ever Let Anyone See THOSE!

Hillary Rodham's fledgling career was somewhat different, though surely not half as exciting.  She was a low-level member of the impeachment inquiry staff advising the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate Scandal.  Under the guidance of Chief Counsel John Doar  and senior member Bernard Nussbaum, Rodham helped research procedures of impeachment and the historical grounds and standards for impeachment. The committee's work culminated in the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974.   [Full disclosure: During her campaign for president in 2008, there were blog articles that said Rodham was fired by John Doar for  being a liar and for employing unethical legal practices.  These allegations do not seem to have gained much traction, but are sure to resurface should she run in 2016.  Only Doar, who is 91 years old, would be able to confirm or deny with any certainty.  This may be one reason the members of the House hearing on Benghazi were so quick to compare Benghazi to Watergate.] 

Marriage and Family

Hillary Rodham married Bill Clinton in October 1975; their daughter, Chelsea, was born in February 1980.  Sarah Heath married Todd Palin in August 1988; their first child, Track, was born in April 1989.

Neither woman has had what could be called an idyllic marriage.   The main difference, however, is their parenting style.  The Clintons fought to protect their daughter's privacy as she was growing up.  The Palins, of the other hand, took every opportunity to thrust their children into the limelight as much as possible, and then complained bitterly about the bad publicity they received. 

Chelsea Clinton grew into a self-assured, highly educated young woman; the Palin children, um, did not.   

Chelsea has recently said that she may, at some point, follow her parents into politics.  Bristol Palin has also said she would not rule out running for office.  [Snort!]

Résumé v. Résumé, in Brief

Sarah Heath Palin:  Temporary journalist, member of the Wasilla Council, mayor of Wasilla, Vice Presidential candidate in 2008, quitter governor of Alaska, Fox News contributor, Fox News contributor (again).

Hillary Rodham Clinton:  Lawyer, law professor, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States for two terms, two-term senator from New York, presidential candidate hopeful in 2008, United States Secretary of State. 

Publications:  Clinton has published ten books, many on child advocacy.  Palin has published two books; one whinging about how she was mistreated by the McCain campaign staff in 2008, and one on another subject -- her heart in America or some such rot -- I dunno.  She has another one coming out about getting Jesus back into Christmas and getting commercialism out of Christmas -- just in time for Christmas sales, of course.

A Slightly Cheeky Look at the Two Candidates

Hillary Clinton has lunch in the Rose Garden with President Barack Obama

Sarah Palin dines with Donald Trump in some pizza dive

Secretary of State Clinton meets with our ally, the President of South Korea

Sarah Palin canoodles with Tea Party racist Ken Crow [not our ally]

Hillary Clinton gave the commencement address to 6,000 NYU grads in Yankee Stadium

Sarah Palin gave the commencement address to 27 high school students in Republic, Washington

Hillary Clinton looking tailored and fresh


Hillary Rodham Clinton has just had a children's library in Arkansas named after her.


somewhere in Wasilla, there's a bar stool named after Sarah Heath Palin -- or so I understand.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sarah PAC, Sarah Palin's Slushfund - Part II

By VinnieF

I wrote an article back in March that looked at Sarah PAC's spending. This article is a follow up to that which does two things. First, I'm going to address some of the replies that the Palinbots have used to defend Sarah's spending. Secondly, we now have the data from the FEC for the first half of 2013, and I was able to easily get the full spending for the entire 2011-2012 campaign season which is quite revealing.

I find the phenomenon of Sarah PAC to be truly fascinating. I don't think there's ever been a multi-million dollar PAC that is built around propping up the reputation of someone to bolster the power of their endorsement. If the goal of the PAC is the more traditional one - helping out endorsed candidates - then how does one rationalize the trip to Republic, WA, the bus tour, the trip to Israel? These activities had no impact on any specific candidate running for office but were paid for by the PAC.

A PAC designed to promote Sarah's political wishes is not only incredibly narcissistic, it reveals her fading star power. Who else needs an organization full of expensive consultants specifically designed to keep them in the news? Who else deemed their endorsement so powerful that it needs a full-fledged organization to manage it?

Debating the Palinbots - Proceed at Your Own Risk

The past articles on Sarah PAC's spending generated a predictable round of excuse making from the bots. Engaging the bots on the blogs that aren't censored is ... let's just say interesting.

Many of the bots are capable of little more than childish debate. They will call you names and try to dismiss you altogether as crazy and not worth responding to. But there are some that actually try to make reasoned arguments. Below are some of their lame attempts to rationalize Sarah PAC's orgy of spending.

The Attention Sarah Gets Shows She's Powerful

This is somewhat off topic and could easily fill an article on its own. Anytime Sarah is in the news and we talk about it, whether it's about the PAC or not, we're accused of having PDS - Palin Derangement Syndrome. Of course, this line of attack doesn't address the issue of her PAC spending at all. It is simply an attempt to attack the messenger, which they do a lot of.

They will also go so far as to say that the attention we give Sarah is done out of fear. We supposedly know how powerful she is and for that we feel the need to take her out. This extends to the GOPe (GOP establishment) which fears Sarah because she threatens to be the white knight that can do away with the all of the corruption present in both parties. Their level of conspiracy mongering on this issue is simply laughable.

Of course, this is Orwellian logic. In their minds, a large outpouring of hatred indicates that Sarah is actually very popular and well-liked. There are few politicians I detest so much so that I would write an article about them. Sarah is one of them.

There's also a general sense of fascination about Sarah. Indeed, articles about her will generate thousands of comments. Many people have a similar fascination about Lindsay Lohan, Octomom, Charlie Sheen, and other badly-behaved celebrities. Millions will read articles about these people but that hardly means that they are well-liked, let alone that people think they'd make a good president.

"I can see a big lake from my house!"

"There's a Five Thousand Dollar Campaign Contribution Limit"

Yes, this is true. A PAC is limited to what it can donate to a single candidate. The bots argue that this limitation restricts the spending Sarah can give to candidates.

How would you feel if I collected $78,125 from you all for a worthy cause and then told you that I was only allowed to give $5,000 of that money to the cause and the rest went for my expenses? That's literally the proportion that Sarah PAC spent on expenses in 2011-2012. Of course, it would be much better for the candidate if Sarah PAC simply asked their followers to donate directly to the campaign to avoid this limit.

This line of reasoning also fails to realize that the limit only applies to direct cash payments. Many PACs do actual campaign work (mailers, TV ads, etc.) in what are called independent expenditures. Sarah PAC does NONE of these. Thanks to Citizens United, there is no limit on the amount that a PAC can spend on IEs. Indeed, Super PACs can, and do, spend millions on specific candidates. It's a sign of Sarah's laziness that she chooses not to come up with any kind of campaign activities for the PAC to do. It's much easier to just write a small check and act all supportive.

The bots argue that Sarah's donation are very helpful to the candidate. Actually, $5,000 is a rather small amount for a congressional race. Jason Smith raised almost $700,000 putting Sarah's share of the donations at 0.7 percent of the total. Cruz's campaign raised over $15 Million for the 2012 race. Sarah did give twice to Cruz but her share still comes out to 0.07 percent. At least from a financial perspective, Sarah's help to a candidate is a drop in the bucket compared to someone like Sheldon Adelson's.

"I just wink at you, you do not need my money"

"Sarah Palin's Endorsement is Very Powerful"

Yes, I regrettably agree that many people look up to Sarah and her endorsement carries a lot of weight. But the issue here is the mismanagement of Sarah PAC funds, not how powerful her endorsement is.
Also, you don't need a PAC, or any money for that matter, to make an endorsement. There are many important, influential people whose endorsement is powerful. I can't think of another individual that created a PAC to try and raise the power of their endorsement.

What an issue oriented PAC will often do is make their endorsement, and then work (i.e. spend money) to get the word out about the candidate by real campaigning such as sending out mailers to voters that are likely to agree with the views of the PAC. Sarah PAC simply transfers 6.4 percent of their donations to candidates (for 2011-12), and spends the other 93.6 percent on expenses to keep the PAC running.

"Sarah Palin is a King Maker"

This is similar to the above argument but assumes much more about Sarah's power than it should. We all know that Democrats took a beating in 2010. Since it is difficult to tell exactly what was behind the conservative tide of 2010, it's easy for the bots to just say it was largely Sarah's doing.

This argument falls apart when one looks at 2012 which was a Democratic rout. Why couldn't the kingmaker Sarah deliver again in 2012? The bots will point to the incompetence of the Romney campaign, in which they have a valid point. However, that still doesn't explain why Sarah wasn't out there working her magic as she did in 2010? My prior article noted that the Sarah PAC had NO new posts from June of 2012 to December of 2012. Once Sarah got through with her famous Bus Tour tease of 2011, she largely took a vacay from the critical 2012 election. Some king maker! Now all they do is dream about 2014 and how Sarah will again lead the way for true conservatives.

The brand has gone sour - It ain't 2010 any more

Ali Akbar Says It's So

After the articles about Sarah PAC this last March, Ali Akbar wrote a piece on critical of John Avlon's article. Being the poor debaters that they are, the bots will often just give a link to the Akbar article over and over and act as if this article settles things once and for all.
Akbar uses many of the standard arguments mentioned above and says:
"Is Avlon arguing that the GOP needs to spend more money on useless TV ads, like those of Karl Rove’s Crossroads? ... Every consultant will tell you that the value of Palin and having her PAC behind you is Palin herself! The value in the brand is that she is a high-profile figure whose endorsement garners more media hits and grassroots donations than an endorsement from anyone else in the center-right movement. The PAC invests in maintaining that brand so that candidates, many now sitting in office, can enjoy the benefits largely unique to SarahPAC."(emphasis mine)
First, saying that TV ads are worthless shows that Akbar knows little about American electoral campaigns. TV ads are a critical part of a large political campaign. Yes, Rove had a bad year in 2012 but to imply that typical PAC activities are worthless is ridiculous. Is he suggesting Republicans abandon typical campaigning and just pay Sarah to fly around the country?

The highlighted comment shows just what I've been arguing - The PAC is, first and foremost, about Sarah. Again, I can't think of a single other person that uses a PAC to 'maintain their brand'. I guess no one before has ever been as special as Sarah. Most good people just focus on doing good work and get known for that. They don't need their own personal PR firm.

but he is a Republican, so thankfully it does not matter (crimes are only relevant for Democrats)

The Slush in the Slush Fund

Note - How to find the SarahPAC reports:

Go to and then enter "sarah pac" with a space and hit "Get Listing". Click on the ID link to "Sarah Pac" (not "Team Sarah Pac"), and at the "Filings" tab you will find all the reports. The "Report Summaries" are helpful as well.

The First Half of 2013 Report

As one can easily see from the FEC website, Sarah PAC spent 93.6 percent of its donations on expenses during the 2011-2012 election cycle. This is staggering on its own. Could it get any worse? Well, yes.

For the first half of 2013 Sarah PAC spent about $489,000. A whopping total of $5,000 was spent on a single candidate, Jason Smith, who was likely to win with or without Sarah's help. Yes, Sarah PAC spent 98.97 percent of their donations on expenses and 1.03 percent on their alleged mission of getting conservatives elected!

One will argue that there's not much going on politically in the first half of 2013. Yes, this is true. Well then, if that's the case then why did Sarah spend:
  • $48,350 on Airfare - And another few thousand on other travel expenses.
  • $12,000 on Compliance Software - This gives her lists of voters to grift from.
  • $5,000 on Coalitions Consulting - Because we all know how well Sarah builds coalitions.
  • $69,000 on Timothy Crawford - His salary dropped from $180,000 to $138,000, hard times.
  • $97,500 on Logistics Consulting - You couldn't buy enough logic for Sarah.
  • $33,750 on Research Consulting - Research? Sarah? Yeah right!
  • Well over $100,000 in Postage and Direct Mail - She is the master grifter.
And who can forget the $271 for the items in the little gift bags Sarah gave to the graduates in Republic, WA. Couldn't a 'gift' from Sarah actually come from Sarah? No. Sarah's idea of a 'gift' is sending Todd to the Wasilla Walmart to pick up a few trinkets and having the PAC pay for it. You can't make this stuff up.

Let's look at what the PAC did in 2013. They prepared a speech for Sarah to give at CPAC, they created a video asking for money after that speech, and they flew her to Republic, WA to give a speech to 26 college students. There's really not much more than that. Does this really sound like $480,000
worth of work?

Sarah: Always looking for the big catch

A Second Look at 2012

If you've been following this saga the 2013 filing is nothing new. The cast of characters is largely the same (i.e. RAM, Timothy Crawford). The true purpose of the PAC still appears to pay for Sarah's expenses and keep her friends employed. Since I was able to pull all of the data into a single database, I thought it would be good to look at her spending during this cycle again. This period covers the two years of 2011 and 2012. It also better demonstrates that Sarah's pattern of spending in 2013 is not an anomaly.

Of course, the 'consultants' are the biggest fraud. They constitute a total of over $1.6 Million (!) or 32 percent of the entire PAC spending during this period. On top of their fees, there was over $78,000 in expenses that they ran up. The highest paid consultants - many of whom are her old friends - are below:
  • Timothy Crawford (Fundraising) - $364,336.00
  • Grey Strategies (Logistics) - $171,773.00
  • Andrew Davis (Political and Research) - $166,875.00
  • Aries Petra Consulting LLC (Speechwriting)- $162,000.00
  • Northstar Strategies (Logistics) - $144,373.00
  • C & M Transcontinental LLC (Management)- $144,042.00
  • Peter Schweizer (Issue) - $106,250.00
  • True North L'Attitudes (Scheduling)- $94,645.00
  • Pamela Pryor (Coalition) - $91,000.00
  • Orion Strategies (Issue) - $50,000.00
  • Paideia Research LLC (Research) - $24,000.00
Sarah also has friends who are lawyers. Legal expenses during this two year period were $186,000. What huge legal issues could she possibly be resolving? Why don't other PACs have similar legal bills? There is an $8,000 monthly payment to Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen simply for 'retainer'.
It's truly baffling what these people do to get this kind of money. All Sarah PAC really does is pick out a few candidates that they like. For all of the 'research' that they do you'd figure they could at least put a small bio of each candidate and why they're worthy of Sarah's endorsement. Nope, the Sarah PAC website is primarily about Sarah.

And then there's the postage. Any organization needs to spend money on fundraising. But Sarah PAC spent over $2 Million, over 40% of their budget, on postage in 2011-2012. There is also an additional $90,000 in payments to Aristotle International. This firm provides mailing lists. It seems clear that they're casting a broad net to grift as many people as possible.

Source: FEC Website

Double Dipping - Speaking Fees, Travel and the PAC

By calling any of her activities, such as speaking at a high school graduation, a political event, Sarah can consider any expenses related to that trip to be something the PAC can cover. Indeed, there were over $384,000 of loosely defined 'travel' expenses in 2011-2012. Some of these are specific such as; over $50,000 for three chartered flights, over $40,000 on the famous bus including $13,700 to wrap it and $1,200 to unwrap it, $10,800 on the trip to Israel (not including airfare), and $4,500 renting rooms near the Republican Convention in Tampa as a threat to show up and do something. (I believe nothing ever happened with this last one.)

It's hard to show all of the specific travel expenses since well over $100,000 of these are lumped together under 'Visa' payments. That's Sarah running around with a credit card going "PAC, PAC, PAC". But there are some notable specific meals; $1,134 at 801 Chop House, $376 at Montis La Casa Vieja, $394 at the Centro Restaurant and several others. Finally, there's a $967 charge for the hotel at the Disneyland Resort.

This also raises the question of whether the PAC should pay for trips when Sarah is actually making money herself via speaking fees. When you go to Sarah PAC, there's a prominent link to 'request an event appearance'. I would argue this is unethical but I don't believe it is illegal. The sad news of this is that there really is no crime for the PAC to spend its money frivolously. The only 'crime' is the idiocy of the people that still give their money to Sarah PAC.

If you look at US 4 Palin's master list of Sarah's accomplishments for 2012, it confirms that she only gave two campaign appearances for the 2012 campaign season (one for Cruz and one for Steelman). If you can scroll past all of the Facebook posts, you'll see that she gave nine 'Commercial' speeches in 2012. (You know one is scraping the bottom of the barrel when FB posts are considered 'accomplishments'.) It begs the question what Sarah was spending all of this travel money on. Other than things like the bus tour, the trip to Israel, the trip to Republic, WA, there aren't many answers.


It's perfectly acceptable for a public official to travel about and run up reasonable expenses when doing the duties of their job. Of course, this privilege is often abused and people should be held accountable for those abuses. Candidates running for office should be able to use campaign donations to pay for expenses which will often include travel expenses. It's also reasonable for them to have competent staff to help with all of their activities.

But Sarah Palin is neither a public official nor a candidate running for office. There is no logical reason why she should be paid to travel around the country (unless it's expenses for a specific paid event). Yet Sarah has used her popularity to create a multi-million dollar organization whose primary goal, at least in terms of their results, is to fly Sarah around the country and get her to show up at places for no specific reason (think Iowa).

For an individual to assume that they are so important that they deserve to be paid by a PAC for most of their activities simply because of who she is, is the height of narcissism and grifting.

Jon Stewart can read Sarah Palin's thoughts...

UPDATE (by VinnieF):

Let me take the liberty of writing a lengthy update that talks about the C4P and Daily Beast articles that others have mentioned in the comments. I saw these right as I was sending off my final copy to Patrick.

PAC activity will obviously be lower in the first half of 2013 than during an election season such as 2012. The C4P article looks at several PACs, but only looks at the data for the first half of 2013 (considered part of the 2013-2014 election cycle). Indeed, many PACs are spending money during this period without putting much towards candidates. Below are examples of large Republican PACs that C4P references.

Senate Conservatives Fund - 2013-2014 - Expenses are 91.24% of total
American Crossroads - 2013-2014 - Expenses are 93.80% of total
Reclaim America - 2013-2014 - Expenses are 95.53% of total

This makes Sarah PAC's spending 98.97 percent on expenses for this same cycle not look that bad.

An honest analysis would look at both the 2011-2012 and the 2013-2014 cycles, and the summary of both. Since 2011-2012 spending is generally much greater than 2013-2014, the results will skew towards the 2011-2012 numbers.

Below are my results. All numbers are the percent of the total disbursements spent on expenses.

Sarah PAC
2011-2012 - 93.72%
2013-2014 - 98.97%
Both - 94.17%

American Crossroads
2011-2012 - 10.02%
2013-2014 - 93.80%
Both - 10.70%

Senate Conservatives Fund
2011-2012 - 36.67% 
2013-2014 - 91.24%
Both - 40.63%

Reclaim America
2011-2012 - 95.53% 
2013-2014 - 89.35%
Both - 93.25%

With this fair analysis, the only PAC that looks anywhere near as bad as Sarah PAC is Marco Rubio's Reclaim America.

Just for fun, I thought I'd look at a couple of the big Democratic PACs. Not bad!

Restore our Future
2011-2012 - 6.70% 
2013-2014 - 100.00%
Both - 6.75%

Senate Majority PAC
2011-2012 - 9.31% 
2013-2014 - 37.71%
Both - 10.75%

As to be expected, this is another lame attempt to rationalize Sarah's grifting machine. Would we expect anything less from C4P that is likely tied into Sarah's financial machine? Note that RAM is heavily paid by the PAC and also was very involved in C4P.

Sarah Palin: She does not know much, but she knows how to fleece the fans