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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Reid

Sharron Angle Goes to Iowa: A Coy 2012 Candidate? Maybe (and Don’t Laugh)

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Are appearances at makeup and skin-care events proper platforms for a presidential candidate?

Probably not, but these days one can’t take anything for granted.

Take Sharron Angle, for example. After making a credible attempt to unseat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada last fall, the tea party favorite could be gearing up for a White House run. She was in Iowa recently, attending the premiere of “The Genesis Code,” a film featuring former presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

And prior to that? On Jan. 21, she appeared at a makeup and skin-care event with Joni Rogers-Kante, founder and CEO of SeneGence International in Las Vegas. At that “girlfriend” gathering, Angle shared “her beauty and makeup challenges during the campaign and how she overcame them.” The flyer said that Angle “had confidence that she would look great with 14-16 hour days & numerous appearances daily . . . so can you!”

The juxtaposition might not have raised eyebrows except that she told a reporter from the Des Moines Register, who asked about her plans, “I’ll just say I have lots of options for the future, and I’m investigating all my options.”

She then added, perhaps slyly, “Please, just invite me back.”

At that Vegas skin-care event, did Angle whisper what color of lipstick she’d prefer to wear in the Hawkeye State – or the Granite State and beyond? More to the point, is she even serious about such a bid? In all likelihood, no. But she’s guaranteed media coverage when she ventures into Iowa, where any appearance by a political figure has potential portent.

Angle gained national prominence by taking on Reid. Her momentum grew thanks to the Internet and social media. Before becoming a tea party favorite, she served in the Nevada state legislature from 1998 to 2005 and in 2006 narrowly lost a congressional GOP primary.

Pundits and others — especially comedians — have scoffed at the notion of an Angle presidential campaign. On Comedy Central’s website, one post joked, “Is there room for one more clown in the clown car? Come on, clowns! You can make room! Go on, scoot over. Scoot over!”

But before everyone laughs, maybe they should pause.

Angle may not run — her chances of success are virtually nonexistent — but she might influence the primaries with money and rhetoric if the tea party movement holds strong. During her race against Reid, she raised more than $21 million (though, admittedly, conservatives viewed her as their best chance to boot a despised incumbent). And she recently announced her “Patriot Caucus PAC,” which is aimed at creating “a ground game across most battleground states for the 2012 election cycle.”

The PAC also launched a corresponding website and Facebook page, which only has about 6,000 followers so far — a small number in the online political world. The PAC’s advisory committee includes tea party organizers in New Hampshire, Florida and Iowa, where the Patriot Caucus plans to open offices. The website features “action groups,” one of which currently profiles Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, conservative host of a popular talk radio show in Georgia, and himself weighing a 2012 presidential bid.

But the website cautions: “Action groups on the Patriot Caucus do not suggest an endorsement of any kind. All GOP candidates will be given an action group once an official campaign is announced.”

According to Federal Elections Commission reports, the PAC has yet to raise any money.

Angle also doesn’t work social media sites the way a future presidential candidate might. She updated her Twitter account last week after visiting Iowa, but prior to that, the last time she updated it was at Thanksgiving. Her only active Facebook account that is public is tied to her PAC, which was last updated Jan. 20.

Her trip to Iowa barely got a mention on The Iowa Republican blog. In contrast, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s visit and book signing on Sunday was a featured story.

Nonetheless, Lara Brown, an associate political science professor at Villanova University, says women such as Angle, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann cannot be dismissed for one reason — they bring other women into the political process (even if MSNBC host Chris Matthews calls them “balloon heads” — a term he used for Bachmann — Brown says).

“While some of these women’s presidential efforts will be little more than quixotic escapades, there is little doubt that they are changing the complexion of the Republican Party by demanding a place at the table and by energizing conservative women to engage in partisan politics,” Brown says.

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Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:28 am

Zombie Nation: A Political Virus in the Walking Dead Among Us

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Good-bye, vampires. We have become a zombie nation.

And not just because of the millions of anti-depressants prescribed each year by doctors. Zombies, the flesh-eating, brain-hungry ghouls, tap into a national sentiment of impending doom and isolation.

Zombies are currently red hot and everywhere. The undead have recently conquered television, books, movies, video games and the Internet. Zombie walks frequently occur across the country. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” has been re-written to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Even George Romero’s 1968 zombie classic, “Night of the Living Dead,” has recently been turned into an interactive YouTube game.

For the last few years, sexy, smart vampires who quote poetry and like rock music have wooed teen girls and boys along with middle-aged women longing for a kiss from “Twilight’s” beautiful Edward Cullen. “Twilight” was the biggest best-selling book in 2008.

But such gauzy Gothic romance, with dashing vampires dancing in our dreams, has vanished. Enter mindless, horrifying corpses that remind us of our impending doom and isolation.

The apocalypse is right around the corner. Isolation is better than uniting. Grab your gun, your wife, your kids because they’re coming to get you. Every man, woman and child for himself. Forget about your neighbors. Besides, they probably aren’t on the same side of the political zombie DMZ anyway.

Conservatives feel attacked by liberal zombies like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who devour the freedoms, which were set up by the Founding Fathers. After this month’s midterm elections, liberals think the red symbolizes the blood and brains of progressives, and there could be more gore coming in 2012. Then there’s Sarah Palin, who has become Queen Zombie with a loyal army that defends her, her family and her Mama Grizzlies.

Everyone is lying. They all want domination. No one can be trusted. We’ve been there before as a country.

When “Night of the Living Dead” premiered in October 1968, the country was at a critical stage. Gloom surrounded everything. It had already been a dismal decade — John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam war – leading into that year.

In January 1968, the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive. On March 31, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not run for reelection. Four days later, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. Riots erupted. In June, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles. War protests broke out frequently. Unrest ruled. By the end of the year, zombies had invaded the country. As Robert Ebert wrote about 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead:”

“The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying… It’s hard to remember what sort of effect this movie might have had on you when you were six or seven. But try to remember. At that age, kids take the events on the screen seriously, and they identify fiercely with the hero. When the hero is killed, that’s not an unhappy ending but a tragic one: Nobody got out alive. It’s just over, that’s all.”

Flash forward to 2010. The country is still waging two wars. Citizens have lost faith in their government and leaders. The economy is unstable. Terrorists are looming in the shadows. Countries such as Chile and Haiti, where the legend of zombies thrive in voodoo, are destroyed by catastrophic natural disasters. Even flying to an exotic locale for escape is tainted by fear as the TSA, checking every nook and cranny of the body, reminds everyone of more fear. It sounds like a script for a horror movie. Next line: An unknown creature is coming to get us. And it’s not as sexy as a vampire.

No, zombies are toxic, gritty and gory with exposed bone and hanging flesh. They wear tatters instead of Gothic romantic frills or leather jackets. Zombies don’t quote the Greek philosophers and Percy Bysshe Shelley. They grunt and moan. While vampires live in castles and mansions, zombies live in the grave, reminding us of our ultimate destination.

President George W. Bush preached that he was a uniter not a divider. That mantra didn’t exactly resonate. Obama won his campaign with too much promise of bringing sunshine into the country once he hit the Oval Office. Everyone could feel warm and cuddly like a Care Bear once again. That’s not working so well for him either.

Jon Stewart’s recent “Restore Sanity and/or Fear” rally may have been right on the mark. In AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” a new show about zombies, of course, desperation for survival pushes many of the characters to the brink of insanity. As a country, we may not be far from that.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Lady Gaga: A Political Tsunami, Waiting to Hit

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Lady Gaga is a political force.

Don’t laugh. Just consider her activism this year. She has taken on several political hot potatoes – the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, Arizona’s immigration law, California’s same-sex marriage ban, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

For all of Lady Gaga’s outrageous costumes and catchy dance tunes, the 24-year-old singer, known as Mama Monster to her fans, has alerted the Millennial generation to issues that otherwise may have gone under their radar screens.

With a social media network larger than any politician’s, including President Barack Obama‘s or potential 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s, Lady Gaga is one of the most influential, and powerful, people in the world. Forbes Magazine ranked her seventh in its recent 2010 list of most powerful women. She didn’t even make the list in 2009.

The Native New Yorker – whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – has 21 million Facebook fans (Obama has 15 million, Palin two million) and nearly seven million Twitter followers. The numbers increase daily. Her videos recently hit a milestone with one billion views on YouTube. Her adoring fans, also called Little Monsters, track her every move and respond eagerly to her calls for political action.

When she appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards in September, retired gay military officers from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) escorted her down the red carpet. Her political statement: Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The SLDN received an instant public relations boost that money cannot buy. More than 100,000 people visited the group’s Web site within 72 hours. Nearly 93 percent were new visitors.

After the show, Ellen DeGeneres invited Lady Gaga to her talk show. Dressed in her now-infamous meat dress, she used the talk show to call for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a Senate vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She also encouraged her fans to call Reid’s office. Naturally, she also tweeted, “CALL HARRY REID to Schedule Senate Vote.”

Reid returned the tweet, triggering a lovefest between the two: “@ladygaga There is a vote on #DADT next week. Anyone qualified to serve this country should be allowed to do so.”

The pop goddess continued to urge her Little Monsters to call their senators and ask them to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She then challenged Sen. John McCain and other senators who opposed the repeal in a stark black and white video, where she also showed fans how to call their senators and what to say. She even headed to Portland, Maine, for a rally to try and persuade Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to support the repeal.

When the bill failed, Lady Gaga vowed to continue her fight for gay and lesbian issues. Her next album will be called “Born This Way” – a shout-out to her LGBT fans, and she recently recorded a duet with Elton John.

Celebrity activism is nothing new. Ever since Bob Geldof’s Band-Aid in the 1980s, Bono has become a dedicated political saint, leading the charge on myriad causes, including debt relief for Africa. In the 1970s, Jane Fonda spoke out against the Vietnam War, and Marlon Brando focused on the Civil Rights Movement and Native American causes.

But Lady Gaga has harnessed the potential of 21st Century social media unlike any of her musical peers or even Washington politicians who pay consultants big money to work social media magic.

“She’s like a tribal leader,” says Gordon Coonfield, associate professor of communication at Villanova University. “Tribal leaders have their own influence and are about bringing networks together. She has her own influence and technology and a new kind of network power that traditional politics can’t really afford to ignore.”

A lot of celebrities tweet, but as Coonfield points out, Lady Gaga takes it a step beyond witty updates and relationship drama. She tweets not only about the cocktail she drank at a bar but also about serious topics.

“We are talking about issues that could change the military and fates of people,” Coonfield says.

Imagine if Lady Gaga decided to lead a march on Washington with millions of Little Monsters in tow. Unlike Glenn Beck, Lady Gaga has a colossal global following. She would shed an international light on her cause célèbre, and her crowd might very well dwarf Beck’s and Jon Stewart’s.

Lady Gaga, who made $62 million last year, likely won’t leave her music career any time soon to launch a run for office. But what if she decided to create GAGAPAC to donate to progressive candidates? One tweet would likely result in hefty donations and free publicity for the candidate of her choosing.

On another front, Lady Gaga might also give Palin’s Mama Grizzlies a run for their fur if she decided to endorse candidates and campaign – even virtually – for them. Who knows? Harry Reid might be on safer ground today if Lady Gaga had helped him in Nevada against Palin-backed Sharron Angle.

First Lady Michelle Obama may be the most powerful woman in the world, but Lady Gaga is not far behind. After all, Lady Gaga is already ahead of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who ranks No. 11. If Lady Gaga maintains her star power into 2012, she could likely unleash her Little Monsters – many who may be voting in their first election – to become a progressive, liberal tsunami in GOTV efforts. And a real worry for conservatives.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm

John McCain Reponds to Lady Gaga’s Effort to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

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Two senators responded Friday to Lady Gaga’s campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which included the release of a YouTube video featuring the pop star Friday morning.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told a radio station he hopes Lady Gaga realizes the repeal effort is “a pure political ploy” on the part of Democrats, and Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand (D-N.Y.) tweeted she opposes the 17-year-old law that bans gays from serving openly in the military and is “helping lead the fight to repeal DADT.”

Earlier Friday, Lady Gaga posted a seven-minute video aimed at McCain, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) — as well as “youth all over the world who are watching.”

In a stark black-and-white video, Lady Gaga, wearing a black pants suit, white shirt and a black tie, sits in front of an American flag and asks the senators to repeal DADT.

She accuses the Obama administration of failing to protect 400 service members who have been discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Lady Gaga, who has become a serious and powerful advocate for LGBT rights, says DADT forces those in the military to “hide and keep private” their sexuality in order to serve. She says the law is being used to profile gays in the military, and that superiors are going through their private e-mails and belongings.

“Gay soldiers have become targets,” she says. “In short, not only is the law unconstitutional, but it’s not even being properly or fairly enforced by the government.”

On Thursday, Gaga tweeted to her 6.3 million Twitter followers: “SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN is attempting to stop the DON’T ASK DON’T TELL repeal vote this Tuesday, with a filibuster.”

She offered her version of a virtual Civics 101 lesson, with a bit of spin: “A Filibuster is a way to obstruct the Senate Floor from discussing or voting on a given LAW, + is essentially a tactic to hijack our debate.” (In fact, filibusters do not stop discussion, only the vote itself.)
Friday, McCain responded to Lady Gaga in an interview with KFYI in Phoenix. “I hope she’ll continue to pay attention, and to watch the debates on the Senate floor, and understand that this is a pure political ploy on the part of [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and Democrats who see their majority slipping away.”
McCain added, “They’re politicizing national security. People like Lady Gaga need to understand that the military is a unique institution,” he said.

“I am here to be a voice for my generation,” she says. “Not the generation of the senators who are voting, but for the youth of this country, the generation that is affected by this law and whose children will be affected. We’re not asking you to agree with, or approve the moral implications of homosexuality. We’re asking you to do your job, protect the Constitution.”

She continues in the video to tell stories about military men and women who have been discharged because of their sexual orientation.

At its end, she tells viewers how to call their senators through the Senate switchboard. Lady Gaga attempts to call her senator – Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) – on her Blackberry. The phone rings and she gets a busy signal. Lady Gaga smirks. She tries to call the other New York senator, Kirsten Gillebrand, whose voice mail is full.

She urges viewers to call Friday and explains what to say — vote with Sens Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and oppose McCain’s “shameless filibuster.”

 

Later in the day, Gillibrand wrote to Gaga on Twitter: “Thx for calling. I couldn’t agree more and am helping lead the fight to repeal DADT. Do you have a moment to talk later today?”The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that McCain may move to block the upcoming DADT repeal effort. It said that activists from Arizona-based Human & Equal Rights Organizers stood up during a Senate hearing on the security of the Korean peninsula and held signs with images from the civil rights era. One protestor’s sign read, “Senator McCain, repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ do you want to be the next George Wallace?”

McCain, a former Navy pilot, was a prisoner of war for more than five years in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Lady Gaga’s activism on GLBT issues took center stage this week after she appeared on Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards program escorted by four gays from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Media also noticed her back-and-forth tweets with Reid on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealer, which is part of the Defense Authorization bill.

Her fans went into overdrive just minutes after Gaga tweeted her call to action. They retweeted her missive to thousands. One fan tweeted, “. . . #DADT needs to be stopped. Prejudice is a disease.”

Another tweeted about what McCain may expect in the days leading to the vote: “McCains VM box=full, so lets send a million tweets/emails telling him 2 allow the Vote on DADT.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Lady Gaga’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Activism Is Getting Results

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Lady Gaga’s activism works.

 

Just ask the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group dedicated to “ending discrimination and harassment of military personnel affected by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” the policy that prevents gays from serving openly in the military, according to its Web site.
Four members of that group escorted Lady Gaga to the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday to help Lady Gaga publicize her campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

 

The proof is in the numbers.

 

On Thursday, the group said 107,159 people clicked on its site within 72 hours after Lady Gaga had urged her fans to check it out. The group said that nearly 93 percent were first-time visitors to the action site.

The group’s Web site features a picture of Lady Gaga with her four escorts, gay military veterans, on the red carpet last Sunday at the awards show. Later, she asked viewers on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She also tweeted and posted a Facebook message to her Little Monster fans to call Reid.

His campaign responded to Lady Gaga via Twitter to let her know a vote is scheduled next week.

The Reid campaign kept responding to Gaga fans on Twitter Thursday afternoon to encourage them to read the bio on his campaign Web site.

Thursday afternoon, Reid filed for cloture on the motion to proceed to debate the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains the amendment aimed at repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. This sets up a floor vote on the motion for Tuesday.

Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, has been a LGBT activist since hitting the music scene in 2008. Last October, she spoke at the National Equality March rally in Washington and said it was the single most important event of her career.

Her Web site also features a call to action against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by encouraging fans to visit the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Web site.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:26 pm