Palin Hypocrisy

From Taegan Goddard in response to Sarah Palin’s attack on Barack Obama:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who has a child with Down Syndrome, today blasted President Obama’s attempt at a joke which insulted people with special needs.

Said Palin: “I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics. This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world.”

This comes on the same day that Palin refused to accept over 30% of the federal economic stimulus money being offered to Alaska. According to the Anchorage Daily News, “the biggest single chunk of money Palin is turning down is about $170 million for education, including money that would go for programs to help… special needs students.”

That comes as no surprise considering how Palin has previously cut money for the Alaska Special Olympics. If it was  money for anything else, Palin would have grabbed it considering her history of taking record amounts of federal money.

Andrew Sullivan reminds us how Palin “used a Down Syndrome infant as a campaign prop.”

Newt Gingrich Trying To Mobilize Religious Right

The Republicans have faced a dilemma for quite a while. The religious right has been useful for years, even if the Republican leadership considered them to be kooks. Traditionally, before Bush, Republican leaders would pander to the religious right for votes and ignore them as much as possible once in office. Bush began to push the agenda of the religious right, leading to the Republicans becoming a regional party of the deep south and Mormon belt. Newt Gingrich  has previously  followed the pre-Bush approach of ignoring the religious right but now that most of the sane people have left the party he sees no choice but to change  his tactics. US News and World Report says that Gingrich is attempting to mobilize the religious right:

At a time when many religious conservatives say the Republican Party is ignoring their issues and taking their support for granted, former House speaker and GOP idea man Newt Gingrich is turning his attention to the concerns of conservative Christians like never before.

Gingrich has launched an organization devoted to bringing conservative evangelicals and Catholics into the political process and to strengthening the frayed alliance between economic and religious conservatives. Called Renewing American Leadership, the group is led by Gingrich’s longtime communications director and includes some of the country’s top conservative Christian activists on its board.

Why the change in attitude?

“In the last few years I’ve decided that we’re in a crisis in which the secular state, if allowed, will fundamentally and radically change America against the wishes of most Americans,” Gingrich said in a phone interview on Thursday. “You’ve had such rising hostility to religious belief that I wanted to reach broadly into the country and dramatically raise public awareness of threats to religious liberty.”

The religious have  little to complain about considering how much the religious right gained under Bush, and now there is another religious Christian in the White House. Melissa McEwan summarizes:

We’ve got a Christian president who’s just as Christiany (even if it’s a different flavor) as the last guy, who had an almost unanimously Christian administration which relentlessly pandered to conservative Christians, including nominating three openly Christian justices to the Supreme Court (two of whom made it to the bench), an almost entirely Christian Congress who start each session with a prayer, guaranteed freedom of religion, money that says “In God We Trust,” a pledge of allegiance that describes us as “one nation under God,” television networks who will accept advertising from conservative religious groups but not liberal political groups, schools who are incorporating a religious belief into science classes, gays being denied marriage in order to protect its “sanctity,” conscience clauses for pharmacists and healthcare providers, religion-based residential communities being built, Museums of Creationism springing up, laws still on the books that respect Christians’ holy day (like in Indiana, where you still can’t shop for a car or buy booze on a Sunday), churches not required to pay taxes, Christmas recognized as a national holiday, and on and on and on.

Anyone who looks at the American landscape and sees “threats to religious liberty” is fucking delusional.

With no real basis for his claims, Gingrich must resort to fabricating an argument:

Gingrich alleges that threats to religious liberty have multiplied under the Obama administration. He points to the recent economic stimulus package, which prohibits colleges from using federal funds to build or repair buildings used for worship or other religious purposes.

That claim has been debunked many times since the right wingers started spreading it, such as in this post by Steve Benen. Newt Gingich tries to position himself as the ideas guy of the right wing. Instead we see him repeating untrue right wing talking points and trying to keep the culture wars alive for political gain.

If Gingrich was really as smart as he portrays himself to be, he would realize that it is the alliance with the religious right which has destroyed the GOP. You cannot claim to be the party of small government and simultaneously support using the power of the state to impose religious views upon others. The Republicans can only revive as a national party by rejecting the religious right and rebuilding as a party with ideas which are relevant to the twenty-first century. Of course this can take manyl years and won’t help a political has been whose goal is to revive his career and run for president in the near future.

Aaron Sorkin on Ron Silver

Aaron Sorkin has written about memories of Ron Silver, who he knew from his work on The West Wing. Silver died earlier this week of esophageal cancer:

It’s not hard for me to remember Ron Silver’s first day of work on The West Wing. It was a table read of the first episode of the fourth season, and Ron, who died March 15 at 62, had been cast in the role of Bruno Gianelli–campaign director for President Jed Bartlet’s re-election bid. His first line came about five minutes into the script, and as soon as he spoke, the 60 or so people in the room made an involuntary sound–you could hear people smile. This wasn’t a Ron Silver impersonator; it was obviously Ron Silver. The one who was Rhoda’s neighbor in the spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the one who had blown the doors off the Barrymore Theatre in Hurlyburly. The one who’d played Joe Mantegna’s foil in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow (a role that won him a Tony Award in 1988) and the tortured and outrageous Alan M. Dershowitz in the 1990 film Reversal of Fortune.

You always wanted to be standing next to Ron between takes. He was either going to make you feel good about the work you were doing, or he was going to make you laugh–but usually both. He was always what we called a “generous actor”–someone who’s there for the piece and not for himself.

On his last day of work on The West Wing, he conveyed to me the courtesy that’s common in that situation: “I’d love to work with you again,” he said. I replied, “I’d love that too.” And, of course, I meant it. It won’t happen now, after Ron lost his long battle with cancer–one of the few battles he ever lost. And television, the movies and the theater all have one less great and generous actor.

A Positive Republican View of Obama’s California Trip

While many conservatives and Republicans are dwelling on a single gaffe during Barack Obama’s California trip, there is at least one Republican who shows signs of rationality. From the Republican Governor of California:

When have you ever seen a president be that out there?”

That was a mesmerized Arnold Schwarzenegger after Obama’s town hall meeting.

“I’ve never seen that,” Schwarzenegger said to a couple reporters as he and his wife, Maria Shriver, tried to make an exit. “Usually people are so guarded. The aides are always so guarded. They’re so afraid that you will blow it or that you will make news that’s unintended and all those things.”

Schwarzenegger continued to gush about Obama.

“But I think he’s so smart,” he said. “He’s so clear with his thinking and he’s so well informed and has been dealing with policy in all this and is also very philosophic it’s almost like. I think he’s just like – I think it’s beautiful.”

Asked how he feels about supporting a stimulus package most members of his party did not, he said. “You know me. I don’t look at things as a Republican. If it’s good for California, it’s good for me.”

Obama on The Tonight Show


Barack Obama is now the first president to appear on one of the late night comedy shows while in office. The Caucus has a good summary of his appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Of course if you read the right wing blogs I predict that the only portion you will read much about is the gaffe in which Obama compares his bowling to the Special Olympics, getting far more attention than matters of substance on the economy. With all their complaints about “political correctness” we all know that it is the right wingers who dwell far more on this type of thing as they thrive on personal attacks as opposed to consideration of issues.

Obama was attempting to be self-deprecating in his bowling quip, and did so again more successfully in explaining why the first dog has not be selected yet: “Listen, this is Washington that was a campaign promise.” Knocking politicians is certainly safer territory. He did go on to say they will be getting the dog after the NATO summit. Hopefully the first dog will not have any difficulties being confirmed by the Senate from nanny or tax issues.

A substantial amount of time was also devoted to serious topics, such as regulation of Wall Street:

Here’s the dirty little secret, though. Most of the stuff that got us into trouble was perfectly legal. And that is a sign of how much we’ve got to change our laws — right? We were talking earlier about credit cards, and it’s legal to charge somebody 30 percent on their credit card, and charge fees and so forth that people don’t always know what they’re getting into. So the answer is to deal with those laws in a way that gives the average consumer a break.

When you buy a toaster, if it explodes in your face there’s a law that says your toasters need to be safe. But when you get a credit card, or you get a mortgage, there’s no law on the books that says if that explodes in your face financially, somehow you’re going to be protected.

So this is — the need for getting back to some common sense regulations — there’s nothing wrong with innovation in the financial markets. We want people to be successful; we want people to be able to make a profit. Banks are critical to our economy and we want credit to flow again. But we just want to make sure that there’s enough regulatory common sense in place that ordinary Americans aren’t taken advantage of, and taxpayers, after the fact, aren’t taken advantage of.

Update: Here is the video

The full transcript is below the fold.