the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Posts Tagged ‘Mike Huckabee

Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum: Throwing Punches Ahead of 2012 Battle?

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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has made up with Sarah Palin over remarks he made earlier this week about her absence at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Santorum told reporters after speaking at CPAC Thursday afternoon that it’s all good with Palin. “I’ve had exchanges with Sarah Palin not not for public record, and there is no problem between Sarah Palin and me on this issue,” CNN’s Political Ticker reported.

“We are fine. No problem,” Santorum said. “We’ve had exchanges” through an intermediary.

Just last night the former Alaska governor had her claws out on national TV.

In classic Palin fashion, she knocked down the potential presidential candidate a peg or two in speaking about her absence at this year’s CPAC, which began Thursday in Washington.

“I think the reports were much worse than what [Santorum] really said,” Palin said on the Fox News show “Hannity.” “I think some things were really taken out of context. So I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him. I’ll let his wife call him that instead.”

Ouch.

She continued, “I think maybe he’s uninformed as to why it is I can’t make it to another political speech in a couple of weeks. As I’ve explained, February is our busiest winter month and . . . just because I am a mom that does not mean I did not want to be there.”

Earlier this week, Santorum told conservative pundit S.E. Cupp in an interview for GlennBeck.com that he didn’t know why Palin wasn’t appearing at CPAC — but he hinted that it might have something to do with business opportunities and family. The remarks were deemed sexist by some.

“I have a feeling she has some demands on her time . . . and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them,” he said. “So I am sure she is doing what is best for her and her family.”

He continued, “I’m not the mother to all of these kids and I don’t have other responsibilities like she has.”

Immediately after Palin’s comment on “Hannity,” Santorum responded on another Fox News show, “On the Record w/Greta Van Susteren,” saying that he was not “knocking” Palin. He said that she was a great spokesperson for the causes they believe in and both have children with disabilities.

It’s not like Palin has been a regular at CPAC. She has skipped the event for the last three years. David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union (which sponsors the gathering), and Palin have an ongoing feud.

Santorum, who is scheduled to speak at the event Thursday afternoon, served as a Pennsylvania senator from 1995 to 2007. He lost his 2006 reelection bid to Bob Casey Jr. Both he and Palin are toying with a 2012 presidential run.

The Iowa Republican website has called Santorum a “rising” candidate.

“There will be a huge void created if Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin don’t run in 2012, and those votes could easily go to a candidate like Santorum,” the website reports.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:41 am

Protecting the Palin Brand: Sarah and Bristol Go for Trademark Status

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Sarah Palin has become an industry. The former Alaskan governor has had books deals, starred in a reality television show and set up a political PAC that raised $3.5 million last year. Through midterm election endorsements, broadcast on her 2.7 million-fan Facebook page or via her 400,000 follower Twitter feed, Palin has cemented alliances to new GOP governors such as South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and various members of Congress.

But Palin is more than just a former mayor, governor, vice presidential candidate and political force. She has catapulted over most politicians to a status of entertainment icon. She has become a brand — and she’s trying to protect it by trademarking her name.

The Palin brand is so valuable, that other family members are in on it. Sarah Palin’s 20-year-old daughter, Bristol, is a well-compensated spokeswomen on sexual abstinence for the Candie’s Foundation, has become a reality star in her own right on “Dancing with the Stars” and may land a job as a radio show host in Arizona.

And these savvy women are taking all the prudent steps a brand holder does to protect an asset. In the last several months, Politics Daily has learned that the Palin family lawyer, Alaska attorney Thomas Van Flein, has filed applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Sarah Palin®” and “Bristol Palin®.”

According to patent office application (serial # 85170226), Van Flein registered for a trademark of “Sarah Palin” on Nov. 5, 2010 — three days after the midterm elections. The government trademark examining attorney has “found no conflicting marks that would bar registration.” In other words, nobody else had already taken the proposed trademark.
A “Bristol Palin” application (serial #85130638) was filed on Sept. 15, 2010. Bristol Palin’s stint with “Dancing With the Stars” premiered on Sept. 20.

Celebrities often trademark their names to protect their image or brand from others who might try to cash in on their likeness or use their name in an inappropriate way.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, the Palin applications are still active, but not without problems.

For Sarah Palin’s application, there are two classes of commercial service for which her name would be a registered trademark. One is for “information about political elections” and “providing a website featuring information about political issues.” The second is for “educational and entertainment services … providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values.”

The “Bristol Palin” application is for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices.”

Both applications were assigned to the same examining attorney, Karen K. Bush. Bush is no stranger to trademark applications with a political slant. The patent attorney ruled in 2007 that a man could not file a trademark application on the name Obama bin Laden.

The current status on the Sarah Palin application indicates the patent office wants more information — specifically, it seems the application is missing Sarah Palin’s written consent to have her name trademarked. It is not known whether that issue has been cleared up.

Palin’s application also had other issues. When someone applies for a trademark, the patent office wants an example of how his or her name has been used for a commercial purpose. Examples include “signs, photographs, brochures, website printouts or advertisements” that show the proposed trademark “used in the actual sale or advertising of the services.” The samples submitted with Sarah’s form were a copy of a Fox News Channel webpage dated Jan. 11, 2010 featuring a story with the headline “Palin to Join Fox News as Contributor,” and a PDF file of a screen shot from the Washington Speakers Bureau website containing the former Alaska governor’s biography plus another screen shot of her Facebook profile.

Bush, the examining attorney, wrote that the examples were insufficient and did not show any commercial use connected to political elections. Palin was asked to send another example.

Bush also had questions regarding the initial date — 1996 — that Palin said she first used her name for a commercial purpose. That year, Palin served as a member of the Wasilla City Council and in October 1996 was elected mayor. The query suggests the patent examiner would like Sarah Palin to prove she was using her name at that time in a commercial capacity in regard to “political election information and providing a website about political issues.”

Bush did rule that that the examples submitted for “educational and entertainment services and motivational speaking” were acceptable.

The file is still pending, and Palin and her attorney were given six months to respond. So far, according to a spokeswoman at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, if her attorney has responded, the letter has not been uploaded to the government website. Van Flein did not return calls or e-mails for this story.

Bristol Palin’s application has similar problems as her mother’s. It wasn’t signed and didn’t show her proposed trademark used in a commercial context. She must file examples that demonstrate how “Bristol Palin” is used in the actual sale or advertising of her “motivational speaking services in the field of life choices,” according to Bush’s letter to Van Flein.

Politicians seldom trademark their name but they might do so to prevent others from using it, for example, to sell shoddy, unapproved merchandise or “official” candidate memorabilia. A search for other political figures such as President Barack Obama and potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney do not show any pending trademark applications. It is a rarity, say trademark attorneys, for political figures to file such forms.

The Palins are facing a long road in the effort to trademark their names. “Generally one can trademark one’s name,” said Jeffrey S. Kravitz, a Los Angeles-based intellectual property attorney. “But, it is not easy.”

Elton John in Us Weekly: Too Hot for an Arkansas Grocery

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Arkansas has a way of making it onto the national stage — and sometimes the publicity isn’t very complimentary.

The latest from Bill Clinton’s home state: Harps grocery store in the small town of Mountain Home in northern Arkansas deemed a magazine story on gay singer Elton John to be obscene.

The store placed gray “family shields” over copies of the Us Weekly magazine, which features the singer, his partner, and their new adopted baby. Printed on the shields were the words: “To protect our young shoppers.”

But the shields didn’t stay up for long — not after members of the Arkansas’ GLBT community started calling the Harps corporate offices in Springdale.

The company, which runs 65 Harps stories in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, released a statement on its website Wednesday afternoon. It said in part:

“Our true intention is not to offend anyone and this incident happened at just one of of our 65 locations, which when brought to our attention, we reversed,” Kim B. Eskew, Harps president and COO.

The statement explained that it is the company leaves it up to the local manager’s discretion to use the shields when customers complain about offensive material. The Mountain Home store said it covered the Elton John magazine after receiving such complaints.

The censorship ignited GLBT activists.

“It’s Us magazine, not Hustler,” said Randi Romo of the Center for Artistic Revolution, a non-profit dedicated to fairness and equality for all Arkansans. “Families come in all kinds of configurations and yes, sometimes that means they consist of same-sex couples raising their children. Many same-sex families live right here in Arkansas. The last census showed that there are same-sex couple households living in every single county in Arkansas.”

My beloved home state of Arkansas is unparalleled at perpetuating its own stereotypes of Bible-thumping, backwardness, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.

Last week, the town of Marshall made national news when its mayor flew a Confederate flag over city hall for four days, including on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The mayor said it was in honor of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Arkansas is one of a handful of Southern states that celebrates Lee’s birthday on the same day as King’s.

This week, the city council, which did not approve of the mayor’s actions, voted that only the state and U.S. flag can be flown on city property.

Last year, in response to gay suicides around the country, Midland School Board Vice President Clint McCance came under national scrutiny for a series of vicious and inflammatory anti-gay rants on Facebook. He resigned after an online campaign to oust him and a GLBT group from Little Rock protested the small school.

Even governors can take a step or two from progress. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee once bragged on “Morning Joe” about eating fried squirrel. “When I was in college, we used to take a popcorn popper, because that was the only thing they would let us use in the dorm, and we would fry squirrels in a popcorn popper in the dorm room.” (For the record, few Arkansans have ever done this, according to my own informal survey.)

In 2009, atheists battled the secretary of state’s office for the right to display a winter solstice exhibit on the capitol grounds near a large nativity scene. They eventually gained the right, but some atheists now worry that the right may be taken away since a conservative GOP secretary of state won the election last year.

There is only one way to describe Arkansas: land of extremes.

The state is progressive in many areas, and feudal in many others. The state has a history of electing progressive federal representatives. Sens. J. William Fulbright, David Pryor and Dale Bumpers and long-time Congressman Wilbur Mills come to mind. Then there’s Bill Clinton, who attempted to allow gays in the military and reform the health care system in his first year in office. Arkansas can also claim one of the most liberal surgeon generals to ever hit Washington – Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

Arkansas is home to some of the world’s biggest companies – Walmart and Tyson Foods — and is becoming a regional hotspot for wind-energy manufacturing. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Center and his school for public service lures thousands of tourists and illustrious speakers from around the world.

But if the chance arises to spectacularly display our foibles on a national news stage, we jump at the chance, especially if it involves GLBT lifestyles or sex.

That’s certainly ironic, as I discovered when I wrote my book, “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” In the 1970s, Arkansas became the home of the first Miss Gay America pageant. The drag queen pageant only blossomed in popularity over the decades.

Little Rock is also home to two of the largest gay and lesbian nightclubs – Discovery and Backstreet. And yes, straight people do go.

“Strong and vibrant queer communities such as Eureka Springs and the surrounding lesbian-only communities have had a presence in the mountains surrounding Mountain Home [where the Harps grocery is located] for decades,” says Brock Thompson, author of “The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South.”

Eureka Springs has the only Domestic Partnership Registry in Arkansas, which often comes under fire by legislators who want to halt the registry.

Just this month, researchers reported that gay couples in Southern states like Arkansas are more likely to be raising children than their counterparts on the West Coast, in New York and in New England.

The push-pull of progression versus moral repression bubbles incessantly in Arkansas, which makes the love-hate relationship for many Arkansans all the stronger.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:21 am

Welcome, 2011: Sarah Palin and Julian Assange on the Radar Screen

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Ready or not, 2011 is here.

Consider some of these upcoming historic milestones as the new year arrives. 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Jefferson Davis becoming president of the Confederacy, the 70th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (actually, his 1941 State of the Union address), the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s first presidential news conference — and the first ever to be broadcast live on television), and 25 years since the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

But 2011 will have its own special history, and here are some of the events that will help write it:

Sarah Palin’s presidential decision: Palin will have to decide this year whether to run for president. In order to compete in the 2012 primaries, she will have to soon start building a ground game in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Sure, she has her reality television show, two books, and husband Todd may show up on the next “Dancing With the Stars,” but Palin must do much more than be a household name to win a crowded GOP primary.

Sarah Palin, Julian AssangeThe former Alaska governor accumulated a lot of favors in the midterm election by supporting winning candidates in key presidential states — such as Nikki Haley in South Carolina — via her Sarah PAC. But she has a lot of work to do on the popularity front. A recent poll by CNN/Opinion Research shows that Palin would offer the weakest challenge to President Obama among current top-tier GOP contenders.

Time is ticking for Palin to make a decision because there are . . .

GOP primary debates: Yes, they’re already in the works. The Reagan Presidential Foundation will kick off the election season by hosting a panel of GOP presidential candidates in the spring. Then there’s June 7, 2011: That’s the date of the first presidential debate in New Hampshire for the 2012 GOP primary. The candidate forum will be sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader, WMUR-TV, and CNN. Likely participants: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Wild cards: Palin, Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding: The royal couple will tie the knot on Friday, April 29 at the thousand-year-old Westminster Abbey in London. The wedding may not draw as massive a crowd as gathered for Williams’ parents’ nuptials 30 years ago in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the media will certainly provide massive coverage. Prime Minister David Cameron has already designated the date as a public holiday.

The event will require major security, the cost of which could top $8 million. British special forces will go undercover with Afghan war veterans from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to watch for any potential attacks around Westminster Abbey. The wedding will also boost tourism — one company has launched a walking tour of locations that helped “define the next royal golden couple.” Also on tap: Kate is soon to be immortalized in wax by Madame Tussauds, and the royal couple will be featured on a British coin.

Julian Assange’s autobiography: No date has been set for the book’s release, which will be published sometime in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf and Britain’s Cannongate. The WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition from England to Sweden, where he faces questioning for alleged sex crimes. Assange has said he doesn’t want to write a book but must do so in order to cover his ballooning legal costs and to continue funding his whistleblower website, which has angered and embarrassed governments worldwide by releasing hundreds of thousands of confidential cables and other documents.

To capitalize on (and extend) Assange’s 15 minutes of fame, Knopf will likely have to publish the book sooner rather than later. Assange will also likely cash in on a movie adaption of the book, especially since his story seems to have all the components — mystery, intrigue and sex — that sell tickets.

The space shuttle retirement: In 2011, America’s space shuttle will blast into orbit for the final time. The last scheduled flight is in early April. NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet after 30 years of service to make way for future programs that will send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 — part of Obama’s new space exploration initiative. The president cancelled NASA’s Constellation program, which was developing new vehicles to send astronauts back to the moon. The end of the shuttle means that the United States will soon have to hitch rides with the Russians to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Last year, former astronaut (and senator) John Glenn condemned the cancellation of the shuttle program. In a statement, he lamented that “for the next five to ten years, the launches of U.S. astronauts into space will be viewed in classrooms and homes in America only through the courtesy of Russian TV. For the ‘world’s greatest spacefaring nation,’ this is hard to accept.”

Top Five Celebrity Activists: Lady Gaga and a Palin, Too

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Star power goes a long way.

Celebrities can often shed light, or make a big impact, on a cause or an issue in ways that even the best public relations campaign simply cannot.

During World War II, Hollywood stars promoted war bonds, rationing and Victory gardens. These days, they take to social media and television to get their points across on myriad issues affecting the world.

Five celebrities who made a difference this year:

Lady Gaga: The pop superstar dipped her toe into celebrity activism in 2009 when she appeared at the National Equality March in Washington. But in 2010, Lady Gaga chose full-body immersion. She took on “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” and encouraged her “Little Monster” fans to make a ruckus by calling elected officials and asking them to repeal the law. For many Millennials, Lady Gaga’s call to action was the first time they realized that they could even call a senator.

The fashion diva, who took heat from PETA for a costume made from meat, also lambasted Arizona’s immigration law and took on the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church when the hate group protested her St. Louis concert. Her solution: Embrace them with love and peace.

How did she motivate her fans to action? Via Facebook and Twitter. Lady Gaga rules social media with more followers and fans than any politician, including President Barack Obama.

Expect the 25-year-old Lady Gaga to continue her fight for GLBT rights in 2011 as her third studio album will be called “Born This Way.”

Sean Penn: Academy Award-winner Sean Penn went beyond the extra charitable mile in 2010. When Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake in January, Penn didn’t just write a check to a relief agency. Instead, he started his own organization and ventured to the ravaged country.

And he decided to stay.

Penn became a camp manager for the International Organization of Migration at Petionville, one of the most complex temporary camps in Haiti. The IOM is the United Nations agency responsible for camp management and coordination. He also traveled to Washington to testify at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on rebuilding Haiti.

In December, Penn, 50, even skipped out of a fancy Dubai film festival where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award to return to Haiti because of concerns regarding the safety of his staff. He received the “Hollywood Humanitarian Award” at the Hollywood Awards for his “selfless” efforts.

Penn continues to stress the importance of medical supplies and doctors as the country battles cholera. He’s not going anywhere, he says. In fact, Penn has recently vowed to spend years in Haiti until the country is stable.

Michelle Obama: Like first ladies before her, Michelle Obama has a cause — childhood obesity. Sure, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Bill Clinton were pushing the issue long before Obama got on the scene, but she took the issue to a new level. She launched “Let’s Move,” a program to “raise a healthier generation of kids.”

She has called obesity a “national security threat” and an epidemic. Last year, she created a White House garden to show how easy it is to raise healthy food. She kicked off 2010 by speaking to the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the issue. This month, Obama celebrated a win when her husband signed into the law the child nutrition bill for which she strongly lobbied. The first lady isn’t above showing her hula-hooping skills or practicing with NFL teams to show kids how to exercise and get outside.

Her obesity campaign recently got Sarah Palin’s attention.

On her TLC reality television show, Palin said, “Where are the s’mores ingredients? This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.” In fact, Obama said, “The problem is when things get out of balance, when dessert is practically a food group.”

In turn, Huckabee, a former overweight diabetic who wrote a book about his weight battle, came to Obama’s defense. Don’t expect Michelle Obama to back down on the issue. She plans to make the battle against childhood obesity her White House legacy.

Bristol Palin: She tangoed her way into the consciousness of just about every American household this year on “Dancing With The Stars.” But she also did her fair share of advocacy against teen pregnancy. Palin was 17 and unmarried when she became pregnant.

In May, Palin appeared in a public service announcement for The Candie’s Foundation, an offshoot of the clothing brand that promotes awareness of teen pregnancy. In 2009, she was named an ambassador for the foundation.

During her “DWTS” appearance, Palin filmed another PSA promoting safe sex for the foundation with Jersey Shore star and fellow DWTS contestant, The Situation. He promotes condoms, Palin promotes abstinence.

In December, Keith Olbermann called Bristol Palin “the worst person in the world” because she preaches abstinence to teens even though she was an unwed teenager when she became a mom.
Palin pulled a Lady Gaga and took to her Facebook page to defend herself. She wrote: “In order to have credibility as a spokesperson, it sometimes takes a person who has made mistakes. Parents warn their children about the mistakes they made so they are not repeated. Former gang members travel to schools to educate teenagers about the risks of gang life.”

Palin graduated out of her teens this year but is likely to continue her abstinence message into her 20s. That is unless she finds a new cause.

Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines and Patti Smith: Collectively, these four kindred spirits came together in of all places, Little Rock, Ark., to shed light on the West Memphis Three – Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.

While teenagers, the three were charged with the murders of three 8-year-old boys, whose bodies were found in 1993 naked and bound in West Memphis, Ark. For the last 17 years, the three have been trying to get the Arkansas courts to retry the case. Echols sits on Arkansas Death Row. The other two men are serving life sentences.

Vedder and Depp have long been supporters of the West Memphis Three. Only this year, however, did Depp decide to become more vocal publicly about the case. Depp appeared on “48 Hours” to plead for a new trial and pulled his friend, punk goddess Patti Smith, into the project.

In August, Vedder, along with Arkansas Take Action advocates, led the charge to organize a concert to shed light on the need for new hearings in the case. Depp, Maines and Smith appeared. Depp read poems written by Echols and also sang and played guitar. Maines, too, performed, and Smith closed the evening with her classics.

The celeb firepower may have just worked.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in November to allow new evidentiary hearings for the West Memphis Three.

Sarah Palin in a Little Rock Sam’s Club: Signs Books, Ignores Media

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Sam’s Club – the Walmart-owned megastore that sells almost everything in bulk – is hardly the epitome of glamour.

So where does a superstar like Sarah Palin set up shop to sign books here? Amid the pallets of canned green beans? Behind the sea of poinsettias? Near the crates of toilet paper? Palin’s choice: In the back of the store behind the frozen-food freezers.

But her reception in Clinton – and Mike Huckabee – country was anything but chilly.

More than 500 people lined up on a cold night here to meet Palin, who signed her new book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag,” earlier in the day at a stop in Baton Rouge, La. Some arrived before 5 a.m. to get in line for one of the 500 coveted purple wristbands entitling the wearer to get two books signed and to meet Sarah. That’s what her fans call her: “Sarah.” Simply Sarah, as if she is a best friend.

Members of the media were scooped up, identified and herded away immediately upon their arrival to a spot near the throngs of Palinites, whose ages ranged from 5 to 85, with some in wheelchairs and many with canes. A media escort spilled to me that Tuesday’s crowd was considerably smaller than Palin’s previous one last December, when more than 1,500 people showed up in northwest Arkansas to brave frigid weather for a brush with Palin and a copy of “Going Rogue.”

Near the front door of Sam’s Club, hundreds of copies of “America by Heart” were neatly stacked and adorned with $15.88 stickers. Before I could pick up a book, a media wrangler had corralled me into the snack area with other reporters. Polite but jittery, she repeatedly informed us that absolutely no questions could be asked of Palin. If anyone dared ask, they would be escorted out by security. She was adamant.

An elderly man wearing a purple wristband sat down with the media and handed the wrangler two copies each of “Blue Collar Christianity” and “Actions of the Early Church” by James F. Holmes to give to Palin. The wrangler then escorted the first team of photographers back to Palin.

Ten minutes later, they emerged frustrated.

“You have to shoot through people standing in front of her,” one photographer said, describing the area as the size of a phone booth behind black curtains.

The wrangler gathered up my group and escorted us past electronics, gigantic gun safes and boxes of enormous Christmas balls. “No questions,” she reminded us, as if we could have forgotten. “Ten minutes is all you get. No questions.”

In a line against a wall, fans waited with anticipation. They obediently shed coats and hoodies and placed them alongside their cameras and cell phones in rubber bins for security men who acted more like TSA agents than Sam’s Club employees. No photos, no recordings of any kind. Period.

It was a vastly different scene than the one my WomanUp colleague, Joann Weiner, wrote about earlier in the day about former President Jimmy Carter’s book signing in Washington.

We entered through a small tunnel of black curtains and stood behind a red rope line. There was Palin — sitting at a long table with a stack of books — and her youngest daughter, Piper, standing next to her. An American flag hung behind her. The Christian books from the elderly man sat on a tall table in the corner. An oversized poster of Palin’s book jacket leaned against it.

Palin wore a shiny black jacket with sleeves edged in sequins and a rhinestone American flag pin on the lapel. The former vice-presidential candidate smiled like a star as she scribbled “Sarah” — no personal inscriptions — in books. She wore her hair in her trademark upsweep, and a rose lipstick glossed her lips. Her nails sported a perfect French manicure.

In contrast, Piper’s nails were bright red as she fanned a stack of bookmarks, which she never passed out. She wore a black coat and her hair was combed back in a ponytail. A man behind the media pen informed a fan that Willow, another Palin daughter, was in the back.

A woman standing at the end of the table quickly stormed over and informed us that reporters were not supposed to be there. But the wrangler said it was fine. “No questions,” the woman said. A few minutes later, she told us she was with HarperCollins, Palin’s publishing company, and not Sam’s Club.

Palin shook hands with each person and asked their names. She quickly kept the line moving with small talk and no mention of North Korea, WikiLeaks or Barbara Bush. Piper leaned in at one point and told her mother something in a bossy tone and pointed toward the back of the store. The little girl looked angry as Palin smiled at her.

A woman and her young daughter approached Palin and discussed home schooling. A little boy then shook Palin’s hand.

“Study hard and read a lot of history,” she told him.

Two 20-something women tried to contain their glee when they entered the small area. Smiles radiated across their faces. They shook Palin’s hand, and she asked the one wearing scrubs if she were a nurse.

Before she could answer, reporters had to exit the area. The nurse, Susie Parkes, quickly followed with her sister, Katie, also a nurse.

“We’re her No. 1 fans,” Susie Parkes said, clutching her signed book. “We love her values and what she stands for and what she has done for our country.”

Katie Parkes echoed her sister. “She is bringing back values we need in this country that we have somehow lost. She stands for family and working-class America.”

“She said we had good hearts because we’re nurses and thanked us for doing the jobs we’re doing,” Susie Parkes said.

On Wednesday, the sisters were upgrading their cable system for the sole reason of watching “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on The Learning Channel. They said they would “absolutely” vote for her if she ran for president in 2012.

As I left, people were still standing in the cold and dark to meet Palin. At a busy intersection near Sam’s Club, one lonely protester stood holding a homemade sign that called Palin a quitter for resigning her Alaskan governor’s position. Palin’s handlers likely made sure she never saw the man.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Bill Clinton’s Arkansas: A Red State He Would Not Recognize

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Arkansas, you run deep in me.

That’s a line from the state song. But this week, red ran deep in this Blue Dog state that is just this side of wacky. No doubt, Bill Clinton has to be crying somewhere. His home state slipped completely down the rabbit hole.

On Tuesday night, Democrats were hyperventilating as the party lost several state offices along with two congressional seats, seven state senate seats and 16 state house seats. Both houses of the state legislature remain Democratic, but some Democrats are worried that a few conservative colleagues might flip Republican in exchange for committee chairs once the session starts in January. If that happens, Republicans would be the majority for the first time since the Reconstruction Era.

For decades, Republicans were tucked away in northwest Arkansas near the Oklahoma and Missouri borders. Occasionally, one of the rascals would pop up in central Arkansas like in the 1980 gubernatorial race when the late businessman Frank White challenged one-term governor Clinton and won. Mike Huckabee succeeded in the 1990s, but the state remained a conservative shade of blue for the most part. This week the map changed to neon red, flashing a warning to Democrats as they regroup for 2012.

It was no surprise that Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln lost to her GOP challenger, Rep. John Boozman. But the state that gave the country its first elected female senator — Hattie Caraway — in 1938 now has no female representation in Washington. In fact, the state only has Martha Shoffner as its treasurer with a handful of women winning legislative seats. But Lincoln’s race was predictable compared to many others.

In Hot Springs, where Clinton graduated from high school, voters chose a dead Republican over a living, breathing Democrat in a state house race. Keith Crass died last week from a heart attack, but that didn’t stop voters from checking the box for him. Now, a special election will be called.

In another county near Little Rock, a Republican who struggled with a hot check history and an outstanding tax lien during his campaign defeated the longtime Democratic prosecuting attorney whose office prosecuted the hot check cases.

Usually Arkansas’ secretary of state races are a boring blowout for Democrats. Even when former first lady Janet Huckabee was the GOP nominee in 2002, few fireworks ignited. This year, the race pitted two candidates with popular, famous names against each other. Republican Mark Martin, a businessman, shared his name with a famous Arkansas race car driver. Democrat Pat O’Brien, a well-known and popular county clerk in Little Rock, was seldom confused with the New Orleans bar with the same name. Martin upset O’Brien in a race that lasted long after the chips had become stale at their watch parties.

Amazingly, one of the most popular governors in the country, Democrat Mike Beebe, held on to his seat by a wide margin. But in another stunner, Mark Darr, a political novice who owns a pizza parlor, upset longtime legislator Shane Broadway to become lieutenant governor. Democrats remember that is the seat from which Huckabee began his political career back in 1993 and moved up when Gov. Jim Guy Tucker resigned in the wake of Clinton’s Whitewater scandals.

Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross will now be the sole Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation. He ran against Beth Anne Rankin, a former Miss Arkansas (1994) and Huckabee staffer who channeled Sarah Palin by upsweeping her red hair, donning rimless glasses and posing with a big gun. The makeover didn’t work, but Rankin will no doubt resurface again in Arkansas politics.

At least a few shining moments exist in Clintonland this week. Voters chose to allow two dry counties to sell alcohol. Depressed Dems can now find a new watering hole or two to visit. One of the counties also happens to be home to one of the biggest Ku Klux Klan organizations in America.

Then there’s the on-going Clint McCance saga. Most of the state’s politicians didn’t say much about the now ex-school board member’s gay tirade on Facebook. But leave it to a popular gay Star Trek actor, George Takei (Sulu in the original TV series), to say what politicians wouldn’t. In a viral video, he takes McCance down a peg or three. Arkansas runs deep in Takei, too. During World War II, he and his family stayed in a Japanese internment camp in south Arkansas.
Something is now brewing in this state that Takei briefly called home in the 1940s. It’s now a place where some conservative Democrats will use God, guns and gays to take out a liberal Democrat. That was ammunition once reserved for the right-wing contingent from northwest Arkansas. In past years, independent voters usually trend Democratic. They didn’t in this election. Bill Clinton also once had an influence. Not so this year. Scholars say that the Democratic Party could come back stronger in the next few election cycles. Then again, red runs deep here now.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm