Friday, December 2, 2011

How to Vet Candidates: General Principles

So, people - the voters - [have] a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They need to do their homework. They need to study a candidate's record - see what they have done in the past to give you a glimpse into the window of where they intend to bring this country in the future.

-Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Freedom Watch, September 29, 2011

It is incumbent upon us to properly vet candidates running for all elective offices so that we can make informed decisions based on facts. In less than 60 days, Gov. Palin taught us - her supporters - some hard but valuable lessons in politics and life. Gov. Palin has often said that our support of her was not so much about her per sé but about her common-sense Constitutional Conservative message. With her decision to not seek the 2012 GOP nomination, Gov. Palin taught us that no person alive is indispensable - not even the best the person for the job - and not even once-in-a-lifetime leaders. She taught us that we cannot always get what we want and we need to adapt to changing circumstances. As much as she asked us to trust her vis-á-vis her decision, Gov. Palin asked of us something even more difficult: to think for ourselves, to make informed decisions, and to trust in ourselves. If Gov. Palin is the Mamma Grizzly and we are her cubs, consider this as the Mamma Grizzly teaching her cubs how to hunt and survive.


This series is not about strictly about the 2012 POTUS race. The purpose of this series is to provide you as a voter with the tools to make a more informed decision on all elections moving forward and for all offices from city council all the way to POTUS.

Due Diligence

In the business world, investors go through a procedure known as "due diligence" to determine if a corporation or a project is worthy of investment and worth putting their money to risk. The principals in a venture or the officers of company seeking financing are also personally vetted to give investors some assurance that nothing untoward will happen with their money. Vetting candidates is our conduct of due diligence, and even in this era of heightened political awareness, involvement and activism, few voters actually do it. Ignorance of how to vet, and voter apathy are the two most likely reasons. When voters believe that there is no fundamental difference between any set of candidates in a race, many will simply not bother voting, much less vetting. Voter apathy leads to the election of precisely the kind of people we don't want in office and it becomes a vicious cycle. "People get the kind of government they deserve." If we don't vet candidates and a flawed candidate gets the job, we have no one else to blame but ourselves. If we sit on the sidelines out of disgust and the candidate we don't want gets elected, whose fault is it? Our actions in elections at all levels of government have consequences.

Voter Vetting vs. Professional Vetting

Voter vetting is nowhere near as exhaustive as the professional vetting that candidates seeking endorsements or campaign support undergo. The vetting of Gov. Palin by the McCain campaign cost over $50,000. Candidates seeking Gov. Palin's endorsement also undergo professional vetting, which costs thousands of dollars. Gov. Palin's careful and disciplined approach to endorsements was responsible at least in part for the 68% success rate in her 81 endorsements of 2010 with an astounding 90% for the Take Back the 20 subset. The average voter will probably never vet any candidate to this level, but several free tools are available to help voters make a more informed decision and we'll discuss them in the next installment.

Beefs and Endorsements

Speaking of endorsements, be aware that personal beefs may influence a politician's endorsement decisions. For instance, a co-worker told me that my former Borough President Guy Molinari has a running feud with Newt Gingrich that is over two decades old. Molinari recently referred to Gingrich as being "evil" and likely will not be at Staten Island Gingrich event December 3 so as to avoid a confrontation that could reflect on the Romney campaign. Molinari endorsed Mitt Romney and will have a leadership role in Romney's New York primary campaign. My Congressman, Michael Grimm is a long-time friend of Molinari's and looks to him as his mentor. Grimm endorsed Romney, much to the consternation and dismay of his conservative base. Voters outside Staten Island may be unaware of the animosity between Molinari and Gingrich, but it may be a factor in local voters' decisions, and it could ripple down to other well-known local politicians' endorsements of a 2012 POTUS candidate.

Poor Vetting Practices

Having campaigned for two Congressional candidates and the McCain-Palin campaign, I have come face-to-face with some of the most shallow and ridiculous reasons why people choose a candidate, with the top three being: physical attractiveness, the sound of the candidate's voice, and the candidate living in the same neighborhood/city as the voter. Some people pick candidates just on hunches. Some people are completely ignorant as to which candidate has which platform and vote based on what they don't know. Shock jock Howard Stern went into a Manhattan neighborhood and recited the McCain-Palin campaign platform to people on the street. To a one, the interviewees thought the platform was Obama's! Other people pick candidates based on sound-bites they hear on radio and TV, YouTube videos, or juicy one-liners in the paper or on the web. Some will take the time to read campaign materials, but go no further. If we are to improve our government at all levels, we as voters need to do much better than this!

Campaign Materials Are the Starting Point - Not the End

Many voters go to a campaign website or brochure and if they like what they see, vote on that basis. Campaign materials are always self-serving for the candidate - any candidate - for any office. Reading campaign materials exclusively to form a decision is a poor voting practice. As a voter, what you want to get from campaign materials is the candidate's stated position on various issues. Knowing the stated position, if the candidate has served in office prior, you will want to examine the candidate's voting record and we'll examine how to do that in the next installment.

Be Careful with Special Interest Groups

When vetting candidates, you want to rely on non-partisan, official, unbiased, and authoritative sources. Be careful with special interest groups or political organizations including Tea Party Groups. Remember, there is no political party on any ballot called "Tea Party." The Tea Party is a grassroots effort and many organizations use the name "Tea Party." Some Tea Party organizations have aligned themselves with one candidate and will smear all others in an effort to help their chosen candidate win. Other Tea Party organizations may prefer a different candidate. Special interest groups who have chosen to back a candidate will also do what they need to do to benefit their chosen candidate. It's human nature. Do your own vetting and draw your own conclusion!


WikiPedia is not authoritative, because anyone with a computer can change any entry. WikiPedia is generally not acceptable for academic papers; and it's not acceptable in US for Palin stories. That said, the reference lists on WikiPedia's entries may point to more authoritative sources. In other words, use WikiPedia as a springboard to reach authoritative sources, but don't use it as the source of your information.

The Next Installment...

In the next installment, we will discuss how to review voting records and research financial data on candidates for various offices. H/T Michael Monahan for lead to information on feud between Molinari and Gingrich.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gov. Palin on Hannity: "Endorsement Not Worth Hill of Beans," No Regrets

"Today, my personal endorsement doesn't amount to a hill of beans. I have great respect for the wisdom of the American people," former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin tonight said during a two-segment interview on Sean Hannity's TV show from her home in Wasilla, Alaska. Gov. Palin also said she has the fire in her belly, but no regrets about her 2012 POTUS decision and said, "we have a good slate of candidates. We have to back a Constitutional Conservative." No mention was made of the Conservatives4Palin Reconsider advertisement.

Hannity repeated his question about endorsing a candidate prior to the Iowa Caucus, which is now 32 days away. "I honestly don't think a pundit's endorsement and their personal opinion amount to a hill of beans," Gov. Palin said. When asked if she was leaning toward endorsing a particular candidate, she said, "I am leaning toward endorsing a candidate who is the antithesis of Obama." She added that no person who has served in Congress can legitimately make the claim that he or she cut budgets.

Hannity asked Gov. Palin if she thought the race was now down to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. She said no and added that other candidates such as Rick Santorum also have messages that should be heard. Gov. Palin noted that Santorum has been consistent on the sanctity of life, Israel and other issues. She lauded Rick Perry's defense of the Second Amendment and Ron Paul's domestic policies, though she disagrees strongly with his foreign policy. "All are infinitely better than Barack Obama because they know we cannot survive the status quo.

Gov. Palin said it was good that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were "going back and forth," but said it was important that they not "lose focus which is to make sure Obama is not re-elected." She said the candidates should provide sudden and relentless reform to clean up the crony capitalism that now infests Washington, D.C.

The first segment of the interview focused on the allegations of sexual harassment and affairs swirling around the Cain campaign. "If Herman did not screw around on his wife and give money to some broad on the side...if she made false allegations, it is despicable. If he did it, boys will be boys, but there is no room for a boy in the White House," Gov. Palin said.

"I have had people swear on Bibles that they had affairs with Todd or me that never happened....Whether he likes it or not, he is guilty until proven innocent. He should have her show the proof," she said. During his interview with Gov. Palin and with Herman Cain before her, Hannity said that hotels, airline tickets, and tickets to venues would be easy to prove and many of these places have video surveillance. Gov. Palin said that these allegations are a distraction that causes money to dry up and the candidate to make no further progress. Though Gov. Palin is resolute in her 2012 decision, Cain is reconsidering his campaign, and he promised to announce one of three possible dispositions of his campaign by next Monday: continue, suspend, or terminate it.

Gov. Palin and Hannity discussed the double standard whereby taking gratuitous swipes at conservative blacks and conservative women is considered fine, but calling Obama out on his past associations is "racist."

Like the prior interview, Gov. Palin was seated before her operating fireplace, giving the feeling of a Fireside Chat. Hannity quipped that her Christmas tree needed more decorations and Gov. Palin said she have her daughter Piper get on it.

Video retrieved from SarahNET.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Media Dredge Up Discredited Blood Libel Against Gov. Palin

ABC's Diane Sawyer on November 15 resurrected the blood libel leftists tried to foist on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin after deranged gunman Jared Loughner shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle ("Gabby") Giffords and 19 others, killing six. Sawyers' false linkage of Gov. Palin to the shooting aired on 20/20. CNN's Piers Morgan last week jumped on the bandwagon. While Giffords' husband Mark Kelly explicitly said Gov. Palin was not responsible for the shooting, he claimed she was "irresponsible." Here are some facts as they pertain to this shooting:
  • Loughner never saw SarahPAC ad which contained 20 cross hairs representing the 20 districts in which sitting Congressmen and women were "targeted" to be voted out. The campaign known as "Take Back the 20" was highly successful: 18 out of the 20 candidates Gov. Palin endorsed were elected.
  • Loughner did not like or watch the news.
  • Loughner did not listen to talk radio.
  • Loughner had a years-long personal obsession with Giffords.
  • Loughner was known by many in his circle to be mentally unstable.
  • Loughner was a leftist and probably would not have been positively predisposed to Gov. Palin.
Gov. Palin addressed the blood libel in a video and a Facebook Note: Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo. Here are some facts as pertain to the SarahPAC ad: See: All Cross Hairs are Equal, But Some are More Equal than Others Facts on "target" and "targeting":
  • The word "targeting" has been used in political campaigns by both Democrats and Republicans since time immemorial.
  • "Target" and "targeting" are key words used in sales. Salesmen and women target prospects. Their commissions are based on hitting certain targets.
  • "Target" is often used synonymously with "goal."
  • Politics and sales share much in common, hence the use of similar terms in both disciplines.
Facts about Gov. Palin and her political advocacy:
  • Gov. Palin has never advocated, supported or promoted vigilante or mob justice.
  • Gov. Palin has always advocated following established legal and political processes.
  • Gov. Palin has on numerous occasions condemned the use of violence to achieve political objectives.
  • Gov. Palin has on numerous occasions said that our arms (weapons) are our ballots.
  • Gov. Palin is a responsible leader who knows and understands her words influence others to action. Gov. Palin has never and would never encourage or counsel anyone to break the law or engage in unethical acts.
Facts about Gov. Palin, Conservatives and Violence:
  • Gov. Palin and members of her family have been targeted for violence numerous times in these past three years. Prior to announcing her decision to not seek the GOP nomination in 2012, threats, death wishes and hate speech against Gov. Palin were routine on Facebook and Twitter. Even post-announcement, haters still make threats.
  • The Undefeated begins with a montage of some of the most hateful and violent rhetoric that has been directed at Gov. Palin and her family. This hateful imagery and rhetoric was so disturbing that the theater version of the movie would have had an NC-17 rating if ran uncut.
  • Tea Party rallies and other conservative events are self-policed, sanitary and conducted in compliance with the law. I have yet to hear of an arrest made at a Tea Party rally.
  • Leftists are responsible for most violence and the threats of violence. This was going on with the "Occupy" protests in cities throughout the country. Violent confrontations with police, rapes, sexual assaults, and destruction of private and public property were staples of "Occupy" protests. Occupy protesters have gone on record as wanting to firebomb businesses, burn cities down, and one has expressed a wish that 9/11 would have occurred 911 more times.