Tales from the Trail

Palin using her star power against selected House Democrats

MOTOR-RACING/

Sarah Palin really has the 2010 congressional elections in her cross hairs now.

As President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law, the potential 2012 Republican White House wannabe was out on Facebook with her own campaign to unseat 20 House Democrats who voted for the legislation. The page identifies targeted congressional districts via a map of the United States dotted by white and red cross hairs.

“We’re going to fire them and send them back to the private sector, which has been shrinking thanks to their destructive government-growing policies,” she says in a rallying note to supporters that also seeks donations for her political action committee, SarahPAC.

Palin’s aim is to go after House Democrats who voted for Obamacare and represent districts that she and John McCain carried in the 2008 presidential race.  USA-HEALTHCARE

It’s also an opportunity for Palin to demonstrate some of the political nous and muscle she’ll need in two years, if the former Alaska governor intends to make a credible run for president.  Since the 2008 election, her biggest rise as been as a media celebrity with a best-selling book, a TV gig as Fox News analyst and a possible reality TV show deal. She has made campaign appearances on behalf of Republican candidates up to now. But her new initiative would be her highest profile effort yet.

Weighing in on the 2010 elections also poses risks for Palin, who could lose credibility if the candidates she backs fail. A USA Today/Gallup poll suggests that 49 percent of Americans think the healthcare reform bill’s passage was a good thing, vs. 40 percent who see it as bad. Forty-eight percent called the legislation “a good first step” that needs to be followed up by more action.

Company dispenses with lobbyists and launches bid for Congressional seat

USA/

Murray Hill is running for Congress to rid Washington of lobbyists and weak-kneed politicians once and for all. And there may be no better candidate, for Murray Hill is not a frail human being but a company.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves,” the public relations firm from Silver Spring, Maryland, says in a statement.

It’s referring to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has drawn a torrent of criticism from officials including President Barack Obama by treating corporations as human beings when it comes to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. Critics claim the decision will unleash a new flood of corporate money into U.S. election campaigns, including money from foreign companies.

Coffee Party USA takes on the Tea Party

America’s conservative Tea Party movement may be on the boil, but the left is brewing up its own version in The Coffee Party USA.

The movement has launched itself on the social networking site Facebook where it has acquired more than 50,000 fans over the past month. You can see some news reports and commentary about it here and here and here.

coffee

Under the battle cry “The Coffee Party USA: Wake Up and Stand Up” it is asking people to host a Coffee Party event on their March 13 “kick-off.”

A ‘Cougar’ may be stalking Bayh’s empty Senate seat

MUSIC-HALLOFFAME/

After rocking the house for decades, could Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp rock the U.S. Senate?

Some Democrats think so and they’re trying to draft him as a possible replacement for departing Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

“Don’t laugh, O.K.? I’m very serious,” Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the left-leaning weekly magazine, The Nation, told MSNBC this week. “He’s a heartland son of Indiana.”

Counting population: Census road tour begins

Road trip!

The Census Bureau on Monday launched the “2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour” to reach out and convince everyone living in the United States to be counted in its once-a-decade population survey, which can alter political districts and affect where billions of dollars in federal funds are spent. USA/

The tour set off from New York City and will include 13 vehicles visiting about 800 events around the country over four months, including the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.

Vehicle updates can be followed on Twitter @2010Portrait and on Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and YouTube.

The First Draft: White House “gate-crashers” say they’re suffering

They passed through layers of White House security to attend a lavish state dinner, got themselves photographed with the president and vice president and posted pix on Facebook. 
 OBAMA-DINNER/SECURITY   
It was supposed to be an experience to last a lifetime. But now, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple at the center of one of the most embarrassing White House security breaches of all time, say their lives have been destroyed by falsehood and gossip.
    
“Devastated. Shocked,” is how beautiful, blond, former NFL cheerleader Michaele recalls her reaction to the morning-after headlines in an interview with NBC’s Today show. And Tareq? “Very saddened,” he says.
    
According to the White House, the Salahis were not on the invitation list. But they insist they were invited and predict that e-mails now in the hands of the Secret Service will exonerate them in the end. 
     OBAMA-DINNER/SECURITY
In the meantime, their lives are a one-syllable word for perdition.
    
Tareq: “Our lives have really been destroyed.” 
    
Michaele: “Everything we’ve worked for — for me, 44 years — destroyed.”
    
The U.S. media have made the Salahis out to be self-promoting social climbers who crashed the White House dinner while Michaele was auditioning for a new reality TV show called “The Real Housewives of Washington.” There have even been reports they tried to cash in on their exploits by demanding big bucks in exchange for media interviews.
    
A camera crew from the cable-TV channel, Bravo, did follow them to the edge of the White House grounds on the night of the dinner. But the bit about paid interviews is dead wrong, says Michaele: “At no time … have we ever even talked about doing that with anyone.”
    
Whether the Salahis are charged depends on a Secret Service probe to figure out just what happened. The Salahis tell NBC they hope to clear their name by sharing those e-mails as soon as the Secret Service says they can. When might that be? “We hope within the next several days,” Tareq says. 

Photo Credits: Reuters/Ho New (the Salahis and Obama); Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (the Salahis)

The First Draft: Before Obama’s speech, Sarah Palin brings up “death panels”

PALIN/As Washington focuses on President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on healthcare reform, another voice is demanding to be heard — or at least read — on this same subject.

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and former Republican vice-presidential candidate, weighed in on her “fundamental” disagreement with the president’s plan. And yes, she brought up those “death panels” that raised such a furor when she mentioned them in a Facebook post in August.

Writing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Palin took aim at the Obama administration’s idea for a congressionally appointed Independent Medicare Advisory Panel, saying this would be “an unelected unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs.”

The First Draft: Reviews flood in after Obama’s Cairo speech

OBAMA-EGYPT/He’s been preparing for this moment since long before he came to the White House, so President Barack Obama might wonder how his Cairo speech to the Muslim world went over. He wouldn’t have to wait long — within minutes after he ended his address, the reviews started flooding in.

The Washington Post said Obama did well, but basically, talk’s cheap: “Perhaps today’s words, from the son of a Muslim, will be viewed as a welcome olive branch. But it’s still just a speech. And even stirring words can’t paper over the seemingly intractable differences in the Mideast.”

The New York Post got a bit snarky: “If world peace is attained by complimenting those on the other side into submission, he made some serious progress. Obama really buttered them up in Cairo.”

Facebook becomes posterboard for inaugural festivities

WASHINGTON – For those not among the throngs in the U.S. capital for the inaugural festivities for Barack Obama, many have turned to Facebook to describe how they were watching the ceremonies or their state of excitement about the new president.

And yes, it even became a spot for soon-to-be former aides to outgoing President George W. Bush to describe their future after their tenure at the White House.

One Bush staffer described being “employed for only 1hr and 28 more minutes” while another told his friends he was on his way to Andrews Air Force Base to attend a closed-door departure ceremony before Bush flies back to Texas on the 747 airplane used as Air Force One (it’s only called that when the current president is aboard).