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Vote Barack & Your Grandchildren Get Burka & Long Beard: Conservative Punditry At NRO

Thomas Sowell of National Review provides this nonsensical warning:

Perhaps people who are busy gushing over the Obama cult today might do well to stop and think about what it would mean for their granddaughters to live under sharia law.

Such statements might fire up the base, but don't conservatives realize that it makes virtually everyone else question both their fitness to govern and their sanity?

No, it's not the 'Obama is a secret Muslim' threat  to America Sowell is talking about, his idea is that Obama will lead to us to being conquered by Muslims.

The major problem with Sowell’s post is to claim the risk would be greater under Obama. The risk of terrorists getting nuclear weapons has only limited relationship to whoever is president and I wouldn’t use this as an issue to attack either party. If we were to drag partisan politics into this, the Democrats have a far better track record in understanding the issue than the Republicans, making his post especially absurd. It’s not a question of being hawkish. It is a matter of understanding the problem and responding in a rational manner. Actually in some ways the Democrats were more hawkish. It was the Democrats before 9/11 who were more hawkish in terms of taking action against terrorism while the Republicans opposed this. Republicans win the overall battle for being more hawkish under Bush. The problem is that they were hawkish in ways which were counterproductive.

(via Yglesias)

Obama’s Personal Doctor 'Knocks' ObamaCare?

Obama’s internist from Chicago, David Scheiner, says that Obama is on a wrong track with regards to health care reform. No, he is not a doctor opposing health care reform but is recommending a single payer system. From Forbes:

Scheiner, 71, was Obama’s doctor from 1987 until he entered the White House; he vouched for the then-candidate’s “excellent health” in a letter last year. He’s still an enthusiastic Obama supporter, but he worries about whether the health care legislation currently making its way through Congress will actually do any good, particularly for doctors like himself who practice general medicine. “I’m not sure he really understands what we face in primary care,” Scheiner says.

Scheiner takes a few other shots too. Looking at Obama’s team of health advisors, Scheiner doesn’t see anyone who’s actually in the trenches. “I have a suspicion they pick people from the top echelon of medicine, people who write about it but haven’t been struggling in it,” he says.

Scheiner is critical of Obama’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary–Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who used to work as the chief lobbyist for her state’s trial lawyers association.

“He doesn’t see all the pain, it’s so tragic out here,” he says. “Obama’s wonderful, but on this one I’m not sure if he’s getting the right input.”

What should the president be focused on? Scheiner thinks that a good health reform would be “Medicare for all,” a single-payer system where the government would cover everyone and pay for it by cutting out waste in the system. “A neurosurgeon gets paid $20,000 for cutting into the neck of my patient. Have him get paid $1 million a year instead of $2 million or $3 million. He won’t starve,” Scheiner says.

Conservatives apparently loved the title of the article (Obama’s Doctor Knocks ObamaCare) and the beginning, but then had to change the tone after reading Scheiner’s support for a single payer plan. Gawker noted:

After first quoting approvingly, the National Review’s Mark Hemingway actually updated his post on Schneier. He had initially quoted the first three paragraphs and concluded “Ouch.” But then he read all the way to the sixth paragraph and discovered Schneier spouting Maoist propaganda. Like we said, whatever. The headline’s out there. Take it away, Hannity.

Scheiner also said that the proposed public plan doesn’t go far enough, and that Obama isn’t doing enough on malpractice reform:

Scheiner, like most others in his profession, thinks that it should be harder to sue doctors and that awards should be capped. He says that he and other doctors must order too many tests and imaging studies just to avoid being sued.

While conservatives often exaggerate the significance of malpractice when they sometimes claim that solving this problem will end most of the cost problems, the fact remains that this is probably the largest area where health care expenses can be cut without lowering quality. It makes little sense to talk about saving small amounts of money in other areas, or to spend large amounts of money on computerization of medical records in the hopes of future savings, without doing anything about money wasted on defensive medicine.

Malpractice reform will provide a test of whether the Obama and the Congressional Democrats are more concerned about lowering health care costs or appeasing the trial lawyers who typically support them.

 

PUMAs Pounce On Palin Controversy

I thought that the David Letterman controversy had pretty much died out after the embarrassment of the Fire David Letterman Rally earlier this week. An estimated fifteen to fifty people turned out to attack David Letterman and socialism while supporting Jay Leno and Fox News.  By this time pretty much anyone with the ability to think had figured out that this was a smear campaign from the lunatic right which really had nothing to do with a couple of jokes which were tasteless but not as bad as jokes told by other comedians. Only the brain-dead had failed to realize that the joke made no sense unless it was about Bristol Palin, as opposed to the younger daughter as the right winger attackers claimed. It turns out that there is one group which is sufficiently out of touch with reality to fall for the right wing smear campaign and believe the controversy has anything to do with treatment of women--the PUMAs.

I had noticed during the controversy that PUMA blogs were repeating the smears(for instance, see: HillBuzz.Org), figuring it was primarily in revenge for all those pant suits jokes which Letterman had told about Hillary Clinton. While Letterman has told fewer jokes about Bristol Palin than the other late night comedians, nobody came close to Dave in making fun of Hillary’s pants suits. The connection of the PUMAs came out after The Politco reported last night that Olive Garden had canceled advertising on Letterman’s show. Just as I was about to change my dinner reservation, The New York Times reported that the report was not accurate.

Balloon Juice picked up on this and commented on the involvement of the PUMAs in trying to get companies to boycott Letterman. DougJ followed up with a second report on  Great moments in PUMA history.  Doug concluded, “I can’t quite wrap my head around the whole PUMA thing, so maybe John or Wonkette or someone with a better understanding of the PUMAsphere can explain all of this.”

Both Wonkette and Balloon Juice showed examples of the smears which the PUMAs are now launching against companies which advertise on Letterman’s show. Wonkette explained their warped logic:  “If these companies don’t cancel their contracts with CBS, the logic goes, then they will be considered Willow-rapers too. ”

The PUMAs are just delusional enough to believe the smear campaigns, which started on the right and motivated by a desire to silence those they saw as critics of their reactionary views, and had nothing to do with any support for feminism. The PUMAs might surprise some in joining with right wingers who back anti-women policies such as banning legal abortions and restoring shirt hanger abortions, along with restricting access to contraception. But why worry about issues that really matter (or even freedom of expression) when you have a chance to smack down the sexist guy who made fun of Hillary’s pants suits?

This should really come as no surprise. During the 2008 campaign the PUMA movement was essentially far right wing in their outlook, being as hostile to the reality based community as the Bush and McCain crowds. If anyone doubted that about them last summer, this should give them reason to reconsider.

Discussion: The Letterman-Palin Smackdown

I have already posted many entries on the dispute between David Letterman and Sarah Palin, along with the smear campaign from the right against Letterman. With all the distortions of fact and attacks from the right, a lot of material has been discussed on this matter. The Washington Post has a discussion with Paul Farhi which summarizes much of the issue. Farhi began with an introduction:

Greetings, all, and welcome back again. So, the strange case of Palin v. Letterman appears to be resolved with Letterman’s very classy apology last night. I say “appears” because, based on my email, some people just won’t let it go. They insist, despite TWO on-air explanations, that Letterman really, really was aiming his crack at 14-year-old Willow Palin, not 18-year-old single mom Bristol Palin. I won’t defend the joke–even Letterman concedes it’s not defensible–but I got news for some of you: The joke makes no sense in reference to Willow. But I guess vendettas and political ax grinding know no logic, or even facts.

I do find this whole episode curious, primarily because of its timing. As I wrote in today’s paper (hey, I like quoting myself; at least I won’t be accused of a misquote), variations of this sort of “joke” have been around since Palin came to national prominence last summer at the Republican Convention. Yet dozens of both milder and harsher iterations (Saturday Night Live’s insinuation that Todd Palin raped his daughter is especially outrageous and revolting) were ignored by Palin, the Republican Party and the outraged types who are now venting in my email box. Sarah Palin even made a now-famous appearance on “SNL” just a few weeks after that skit aired. So what’s different this time? I don’t get it, either.

To answer his question, Farhi is right that there have been many other jokes about Bristol Palin with many being far worse than the one Letterman told, and later stated he regretted. Additional examples are here. Despite the attacks, Letterman has actually told far fewer jokes about Bristol Palin than other late night comics. The difference is that the far right is under the misconception that Letterman is promoting a liberal agenda and that he selectively makes jokes about Republicans. While he makes jokes about members of both parties, the right wingers who attack are not likely to watch his show and only hear about selective jokes he has told. The right has been targeting Letterman since well before last week’s jokes. This began during the campaign, and was also seen in reports such as this from earlier in the year.

The full story is worth reading as I can only touch on some of the questions here. Farhi responded to the view that Letterman should not have apologized as he did nothing wrong by noting how classy his apology was. Farhi noted that Palin was keeping an eye on the politics of this, comparing her attacks on Letterman to previous attacks on Hollywood by Dan Quayle, Joe Lieberman, and Bob Dole. A commenter pointed out that, “Perhaps the reason she didn’t condemn similar jokes from Leno or Conan was because she knew that targeting the network of Dan Rather would play well among conservatives.”

A commenter noted the timing of the second apology, not coming until Monday as Letterman tapes his Friday show on the preceding Monday. Farhi thought that the weekend interregnum was critical as it gave Letterman time to reflect on the whole mess.

There were comments on whether this would hurt or help Letterman. Farhi, along with most television columnists, believes that this has worked to his benefit, especially in light of Letterman’s increasing ratings over the past week. Farhi wrote that this is “probably going to be remembered as his ‘Hugh Grant’  moment--i.e., the thing that propelled him past his competition, for good.” He later responded to a claim that Letterman has jumped the shark by saying, “Whatever the opposite of  ‘jump-the-shark’  is, I think Letterman is there now.”

Farhi responded to a commenter who did not see the significance of other comedians having made worse jokes without receiving a response:

I won’t defend Letterman’s “joke.” Never have. But I think it’s fair to point out that the same joke got no reaction from Palin, or her supporters, just a few months ago. And, frankly, “Saturday Night Live’s” bit on this was much, much worse than Letterman’s. Not only was there no protest about it, she went on “SNL” a few weeks later. Sorry if these facts are inconvenient to you in your state of outrage, but they are facts.

Later when someone tried to claim that Letterman’s joke was worse than the one on SNL, Farhi replied, ‘The  ‘SNL’  skit directly insinuated that Todd Palin had an incestuous relationship with his daughters. I don’t know how you can get more vulgar and ugly than that.”

During the discussion it was noted that it is possible Palin  “may have been taking orders from the McCain campaign on media strategy” when she did not show similar outrage to the jokes on Saturday Night Live. Farhi later responded to another question on this topic:

I think the bigger-fish-to-fry theory has some validity here. If she had complained about it at the time, it would have been a huge distraction for the McCain campaign. On the other hand, she didn’t have to go on “SNL” if she had a problem with their jokes about her and her family.

Later someone argued that, “NO ONE — absolutely no one has the right to make crude remarks about teens that might have a lasting effect on them.” Farhi replied, “Fair enough. But is NBC (Conan, Leno, Saturday Night Live) and Comedy Central (Stewart) on the same list? Why single out CBS and Letterman?.”

Farhi commented on the misconception among conservatives that Letterman has been taking sides politically:

I’ve never thought of Letterman as a Democrat or a liberal–he just wailed on Bill Clinton and Hillary, and still does–but apparently this whole controversy tapped into some latent Dave-is-a-lousy-liberal wellspring among conservatives. Weird.

When someone said that Letterman has taken sides, Farhi responded, “More so than Stewart, Leno, Conan, etc.? Again, I’m not so sure about that.” Realistically the far right provides more material for comedians. It is also likely that intelligent, educated people will reject the agenda of the far right. While support for the two parties might normally be more even among television celebrities, it is not surprising that they would reject the Republicans now that they are under the control of far right extremists--as the majority of voters have.

Farhi responded to a comment that it didn’t matter which daughter the joke was aimed at:

Actually, it DOES matter, on some level. Again, I think the daughters should be off limits, but if anyone is going there, the only way that joke makes sense is in reference to the older daughter, who is, in fact, a single mother. People who keep insisting that it was about the “rape” of a 14-year-old–as Palin said last week–are just blatantly ignoring the facts.

Farhi resonded to a question about telling such a joke about the Obama girls by pointing out, ” If it had been about the Obama girls, it would not have made sense (neither has been pregnant).” In addition, Bristol Palin has been appearing in public speaking about her pregnancy, making her a more likely target, right or wrong, for jokes of this type.

A commenter speculated that  “I think the issue for Palin is CBS. Republicans have alleged for years that the network has a liberal bias. Palin may also be trying to pay back CBS for that embarrassing Katie Couric interview from last fall.” Farhi responded, “Maybe. But I saw nothing unfair about that interview. Those WERE her own words, weren’t they?”

Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that conservatives will continue to lash out against the media, often blaming the messenger when the facts work against them.

The Insanity Of Palin Supporters At The Fire Letterman Rally

Jonah Green of NY Mag captured the above video of the estimated 15 to 50 right wing lunatics who showed up to protest against David Letterman. (Hat tip to Danny Shea). The video shows they are misinformed, believing all the smears spread by the right wing about David Letterman, along with many other beliefs of the extreme right. One says Letterman “rapes children with his mouth.” They also expressed opposition to socialism, which is hardly relevant to this issue, and were split as to praising Fox News or Jay Leno. They are clearly unaware of the fact that Leno, along with the other late night comedians, have told far more jokes about Bristol Palin than Letterman has--with many of the other jokes being far worse.

Besides opposing socialism and supporting Leno, another common response of protesters was to make a false equivalency between the Palin situation and Letterman’s. They hardly appear to be taking the high moral ground with their own personal attacks, especially after Letterman has apologized twice and agrees he should not have included jokes about Bristol Palin. There is hardly a comparison between a teenager getting pregnant and soon breaking up with the father and adults who have the means to raise a child getting married after the birth of their child.The Palins have also made a target of Bristol by having her speak at public events on her pregnancy and teen pregnancy.

This line of attack won’t work any better than Dan Quayle’s attacks on the fictional TV character Murphy Brown for being an unwed mother. Do Palin supporters really want to have yet one more similarity between Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin to be discussed? (Or a non-comparison comparison as in  If Palin is not Dan Quayle...) It is already bad enough for Palin that she came out of this matter being described as not intelligent enough to be president if she didn’t understand that the joke only makes sense about Bristol as opposed to Willow, along with once again appearing to have a thin skin and intolerant of criticism.

 

Sarah Palin Accepts Apology, Supporters Protest [UPDATED]

Sarah Palin has accepted David Letterman’s apology given on last night’s show:

“Of course it’s accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who ‘joke’ about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve,” the statement read.

“Letterman certainly has the right to ‘joke’ about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America’s right to free speech – in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect.”

Palin is a smart politician and knows she has milked this for all it is worth. While she has excited her base with her attacks on Letterman, she is also becoming subject to jokes that if she is too dumb to understand Letterman’s joke (and believe the right wing smears that it was about Willow or about rape) then she is also too dumb to be president. It has become in Palin’s interest to end the over-reaction and faux-outrage. This also shows an improvement in Palin’s understanding of freedom of speech compared to previous comments she has made.

Palin did have a legitimate beef with regards to jokes about Bristol and sexist jokes. This controversy very well might reduce both of these in the future--from other comedians as well as Letterman.  Palin limited the victory she could have had if she had responded honestly. If she had criticized Letterman for the joke about Bristol, without repeating the nonsense that it was about Willow, and conceded that this is just one in a long string of jokes from many comedians which were wrong, her objection would have sounded even more genuine. If she approached it like that virtually everyone, left and right, would have sided with her on it. Instead, by overreacting and distorting the facts, it became another polarizing issue.

So far the right wing groups are planning to continue with their protests. That’s no surprise–they have been planning attacks on Letterman for quite a while. They just saw last week’s jokes as an opportunity to move ahead. First they tried with the “slutty flight attendant” joke but when they didn’t get anywhere with that they distorted the Bristol Palin joke. They also probably realize that Letterman is unlikely to give them any ammunition in the near future so if they want to continue to attack Letterman they have to stick with this.

The long term fall out of this will probably be minimal as, outside of the extreme right, few believe the distortions being made that Letterman  told a joke about a 14-year-old girl.  Television columnists seem to agree. Maureen Ryan wrote,   “To appear to have made an unfortunate remark about a 14-year old just seemed … not Letterman-esque. That’s not who he is.” Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Letterman’s bedrock decency has prevailed over what he must know is Palin’s bedrock opportunism in prolonging the controversy.” Danny Gallagher wrote, “If Letterman is guilty of bad taste, that also means Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Bill Maher could be charged as accessories after the fact and should all share a cell in Comedy Jail. They have all made jokes about the Palin kids and how Bristol’s big underage mistake in the sack has made her an ‘easy’ target (pun intended) for every political and athletic horn-dog who is still roasting on a spit at the concession stand of public shame. That’s why it’s called ‘late night’ television. It’s like after dark cable TV but with less appealing boobs.”

Lastly, Kate Harding writes that Letterman and Palin are both jerks, but she felt compelled to defend Letterman (as I did) because he was the target of false accusations which went way beyond what he actually said. After summarizing what Letterman said and the distortions spread by Palin, Harding wrote:

She and her daughters do not deserve sexist attacks any more than Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem or your mom do, and she’s absolutely right that what Letterman said was out of line and indefensible. She’s absolutely right that jokes like that contribute to an oppressive culture for women and young girls. But on this rare occasion when she’s absolutely right about a couple of things, she can’t just stop there. She has to blow straight past reasonable outrage and into disingenuous, over-the-top accusations.

Earlier this week, a Palin spokesperson said in a statement, “It would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.” When Lauer asked her about that, she said, “Hey, take it however you want to take it.” OK, here’s how I take it: You’re implying that Letterman’s a pedophile. Nice. See also: calling the jokes “sexually perverted,” which they weren’t, instead of “sexist and tasteless,” which they were. So now here I am, inspired to defend Letterman from spurious attacks on his character, when I should be reinforcing the accurate attacks on his character in response to his spurious and sexist attacks on yours and your oldest daughter’s. Why do you torment me so, Sarah Palin? Letterman said unequivocally offensive things, and he deserves to be condemned for them. But now, so have you, which complicates the matter of defending you as a fellow woman. Don’t get me wrong; I will always denounce anyone who calls you a slut, or any other misogynistic slur. You don’t deserve it, and that crap hurts all women. But if someone wants to call you a liar and a loon? You’re on your own, lady.

 

Although Palin accpeted Letterman's apology, unfortunately many Palin supporters have not, and went ahead with their planned protests against Letterman. How did they go?

Reuters reports on the anti-Letterman protests (emphasis mine):

Still, more than a dozen protesters held up banners outside Letterman’s Times Square studio as Tuesday’s show was being taped, but they were outnumbered by spectators and media.

Sounds like they are having trouble getting attention from anyone other than a handful of right wing kooks.

The New York Daily News places the count at about fifty. MTV estimates three dozen.

Update: Despite days of planning for the rally, promotions on right wing blogs, numerous RSVP’s, and months of preparing to go after Letterman by the right wing, the Fire Letterman Rally didn’t come off as planned. As indictated above, there were estimates of only 36 to 50 people who weren’t satisfied with Letterman’s apology showing up. The rally might have been a flop but  Letterman still was able to make numerous jokes about the attacks on him during the monologue tonight: The show started off with an announcement that CBS likes to apologize in advance to everyone he is going to insult tonight. That, he means well but is just an idiot. His monologue began with instructions for everyone in the audience to come forward when he calls their name to pick up their apology. He promised to get through this as quickly as possible so everyone could get to the Fire Dave Rally and he  said his son is telling everyone at school that his father is Conan. While the jokes were primarily directed at himself he did make some jokes about Sarah Palin saying that Palin accepted his apology and that she has also accepted a $500 gift certificate from Lens Crafters. He said he was nervous about the apology to Sarah Palin so to get his confidence up he rehearsed by apologizing to Tina Fey.

Letterman also presented the Top Ten Things Overheard  at The Fire David Letterman Rally:

10. “David who?”

9. “Well, it was nice of CBS to provide the catering.”

8. “We should have done this years ago.”

7. “What idiot turned Broadway into a pedestrian mall?”

6. “Isn’t there always a crowd demanding Letterman be fired?”

5. “March around the potholes, people.”

4. “Can we also get CBS to bring back ‘Gunsmoke’?”

3. “When does Cheney get here with the waterboarding gear?”

2. “He should apologize for that hairpiece.”

1. “Thanks for coming, Regis.”

 

On Michelle Obama's Relative Who Escaped From Zoo

“A prominent South Carolina Republican” needs lessons in evolutionary biology and damage control, as well as race relations:

A prominent South Carolina Republican killed his Facebook page Sunday after being caught likening the First Lady to an escaped gorilla.

Commenting on a report posted to Facebook about a gorilla escape at a zoo in Columbia, S.C., Friday, longtime GOP activist Rusty DePass wrote, “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors – probably harmless.”

Busted by South Carolina political blogger Will Folks on his FITNEWS blog, DePass told WIS-TV in Columbia, “I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest.”

Then he added, “The comment was hers, not mine,” claiming Michelle Obama made a recent remark about humans descending from apes. The Daily News could find no such comment.

His response is not very helpful, and isn’t even accurate with regards to evolution. I bet Michelle never said such a thing because she has a better understanding of modern science than DePass. Humans and apes have a common ancestor. Humans did not descend from apes such as modern gorillas.

Beyond that biological error, it is true that Michelle Obama is related to apes. Of course so am I  and so is DePass, along with every other human in the world. This makes it impossible not to wonder, of all the humans in the world, why DePass used Michelle Obama as an example.

Meteor Blades has more on DePass' non-apology apology:

Clearly in jest. Clearly. Surely. Only humorless, hypersensitive, politically correct people would make a stink over something so harmless. How could anybody be offended by a joke that DePass probably heard the first version of from his grandfather who heard it from his grandfather?

No surprise there. In fact, the ape reference in relation to African Americans has a long history. But it's not just history. Some Americans, especially those of us raised in the South, grew up with it as standard fare, even in the classroom. While the crudest depictions of black people as apes have disappeared from American culture, for many there remains a mental association of African Americans with apes.

Not only is it not a jest, it is also not harmless prejudice. According to six cognitive studies put together by a team of psychologists led by  Professor Philip Atiba Goff, "participants’ basic cognitive processes ... significantly alter[ed] their judgments in criminal justice contexts."

Included in the team's studies - published as "Not Yet Human: Implicit Knowledge, Historical Dehumanization, and Contemporary Consequences" - was an archival look at hundreds of articles published in the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1979-1999. They discovered that blacks convicted of capital crimes were four times more likely than convicted whites to be described with "ape-relevant" language, such as "barbaric," "beast," "brute," "savage" and "wild."[...]

Arriving in Los Angeles in the late 1980s, I went on dozens of ridealongs in police cruisers as part of an effort to get acquainted with the gang phenomenon in the part of the city that was then called South Central, then predominately African American. Officers constantly would refer to a call as an N.H.I. I soon discovered this meant No Humans Involved.

I suppose Rusty DePass would find that pretty funny, too.

 

Neo-Nazis Are In The Army Now

Matt Kennard of Salon reports on how the army has lowered its standards and is allowing in more white supremacists and neo-Nazis. His article is entitled  Neo-Nazis are in the Army now. Some will also be outside the Ed Sullivan Theater on Tuesday.

Let's Recap Palin's "Outrage" And Letterman's Apologies

David Letterman was hardly alone in making jokes about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. But it turns out there have been some by other comedians about her younger daughter. All of these jokes are in poor taste. Jokes about Bristol Palin, and even the other Palin children, are common place as is demonstrated here:

Top 10 Reasons Sarah Palin’s “Outrage” is Misplaced and A Little Late…

10) Last September, a skit on Saturday Night Live suggested incest in the Palin family. “What about the husband?” asked a mock Times reporter. “You know he’s doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It’s Alaska!” No outrage. Sarah Palin appeared on the show one month later in late October.

9) Days after the announcement of Bristol’s pregnancy, Conan O’Brien joked, “It’s true, John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has revealed that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Palin said, ‘We should never have introduced her to John Edwards.’” Where was the outrage? Was Conan promoting infidelity with an underage girl?

8 ) From two different Tonight Shows: “Governor Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. Oh, boy, you thought John Edwards was in trouble before, now he’s really done it!” AND…”All the Republicans are heaping praise on Governor Palin. Fred Thompson said, as an actor, he could see them making a movie about Sarah Palin and her family. Didn’t they already make that movie? I think it was called ‘Knocked Up!’”–Jay Leno

7) Craig Ferguson’s skit of “Larry King vs Levi Johnston” asks about “kinky sex” with the drapes open. Craig Ferguson’s honorary Alaska citizenship, granted by Governor Palin wasn’t rescinded.

6) “According to expense reports, Sarah Palin charged the state of Alaska over $21,000 for her children to travel with her on official business. In fairness to Gov. Palin, when she leaves them home alone they get pregnant.” –Seth Meyers (SNL). Sarah Palin was in a sketch with Meyers a week earlier.

5) On October 8, 2008, Sarah Palin walked out on the ice with six year old Piper and 13 year old Willow, before the game, Conan O’Brien said, “Saturday night, Sarah Palin is going to drop the first puck at the Philadelphia Flyers’ hockey game. Then Palin will spend the rest of the game trying to keep the hockey players out of her daughter’s penalty box.” Oh, yes he did. You get the outrage…but not a peep then. According to the new “logic”, O’Brien was advocating for some really sick stuff.

4) Rush Limbaugh: “Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?” Limbaugh put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton. At the time, Chelsea Clinton was 13 years old. Rush also said, “In last year’s campaign, the most prominent, articulate voice for standard run-of-the-mill good old-fashioned American conservatism was Sarah Palin.” Calling a young teenager a “dog” can’t be helpful to her “self-esteem.” Where is the apology from the leader of the GOP?

3) “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”–John McCain, Sarah Palin’s running mate. Should McCain apologize to every young woman in America?

2) Palin’s friend, political defender and informer of the David Letterman comments, John Ziegler, was fired from his radio show for using the “n-word” online and on air in 1997. In 2000, he was fired for spelling the “n-word” on the air. How much does that word affect the psychological health of America’s youth, regardless of their race? Now he is pimping his film about how mean the “liberal media” was to Sarah Palin.

AND…The NUMBER 1 REASON Sarah Palin’s Outrage is Misplaced and A Little Late…

1) The “candidate who must be obeyed” was talking about Palin’s family when he said, “Kids are off limits.” Jake Tapper of ABC News interviewed then Candidate Obama, and asked, “Governor Palin and her husband issued a statement today saying their 17-year-old daughter Bristol, who is unmarried, is five months pregnant. Do you have any reaction?”

OBAMA: “I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off-limits. And people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know, my mother had me when she was 18. And, you know, how family deals with issues and — and, you know, teenaged children, that shouldn’t be the topic of — of our politics.”

The Palin children have been fodder for comedians since they were brought to the national stage. Incest isn’t funny. Ugly kid jokes aren’t funny. Many of the things said about public figures are just flat wrong. Being “knocked up” isn’t much fun. Racist comments hurt all of us. I exhausted the top 10 list before I ran out of outrageous instances ignored by the Palins.

The National Organization for Women named David Letterman to their Hall of Shame. Will Letterman be joining Jay Leno? Conan O’Brien? Craig Ferguson? Seth Myers? Rush Limbaugh? Or John McCain? Of course not! I guess N.O.W. didn’t bother checking Sarah Palin’s “feminist” credentials. All across America, right wing radio and television talk show hosts feigned outrage in perfect synchronicity. The same people who back up Palin’s high drama assertions against Letterman ignored the connections between Bill O’Reilly’s irresponsible incitement and the murder of Dr. George Tiller. David Letterman, a late night entertainer, apologized. Fox New’s Bill O’Reilly has not.

As a parent, I understand being defensive. I just wonder what took so long. Why now?

Why now? The answer is simple. The right wing “outrage” has nothing to do with feminism and certainly nothing to do with jokes about Palin’s children. The right wing blogs were attacking Letterman over a Sarah Palin joke after Monday’s show before they realized they could attract more attention by falsely claiming Letterman was joking about Palin’s minor daughter as opposed to Bristol Palin. While Letterman’s joke was clearly about Bristol, other jokes above were not. While Letterman’s latest joke was about Bristol Palin after turning 18, and after she has been appearing in public speaking about her pregnancy, it is also notable that the above jokes were at the time about Palin’s 17-year-old daughter.

While the jokes were in poor taste,as even Letterman admitted last week, they hardly deserved the attention they received--unless the attackers have other motives for their attacks. This controversy is just another in a long string of examples of how the authoritarian wing of the right opposes freedom of speech and desires to silence anyone who disagrees with their reactionary agenda, and lying about what others have said is a frequent tactic which they employ.

Today, David Letterman has gone out of his way to attempt to diffuse the controversy by apologizing for jokes of his which were distorted by right wing attackersThe Los Angeles Times reports:

Under fire for a risque joke last week, David Letterman has apologized to Gov. Sarah Palin and her supporters. But a group urging CBS to fire the host says it’s still not enough.

On CBS’ “Late Show” tonight, Letterman says he’s sorry about a monologue earlier this month in which he joked that New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez impregnated Palin’s daughter during a game. Letterman has said he intended the joke to be in reference to Palin’s 18-year-old daughter Bristol, but Gov. Palin actually attended the game with her 14-year-old daughter Willow. Some critics have accused Letterman of joking about statutory rape.

“I told a bad joke,” Letterman told viewers at an afternoon taping. “I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception.  And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke.  It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault.”

He concluded, “I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future.”

The New York Times adds further information (but is off by a week--it only feels like it was well more than a week ago):

David Letterman directly apologized to Gov. Sarah Palin and her daughters on his program Monday night, saying he took responsibility for a joke that had offended Ms. Palin, her family, and her supporters.

Mr. Letterman opened the desk portion of his show with the apology in which he said he wanted to say he was sorry to “to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke.” Two weeks ago on his “Late Show” program on CBS, he had joked about Governor Palin attending a Yankee game with her daughter.

The joke, in which Mr. Letterman seemingly confused Willow, who is 14 and attended a Yankee game with Gov. Palin that week, with Bristol, who is 18 and an unwed mother, had to do with the Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez impregnating Ms. Palin’s daughter.

Last week Mr. Letterman somewhat defiantly said that there was a misperception going on and he would never make a sexually charged joke about a 14-year old. But he never expressly explained that he had inadvertently confused the two Palin daughters.

Monday he acknowledged that as the host of the program it was his responsibility to get the joke right. “I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception.”

He also insisted he was confused about the daughters. “I was told at the time she was there with Rudy Guiliani,” Mr. Letterman said. “I should have made the joke about Rudy.”

It is doubtful that this apology will make any difference with the Palin supporters who continued to smear Letterman after his first apology last week.  These attacks really have nothing to do with jokes about Palin’s daughters. Right wing bloggers began attacking Letterman for telling jokes about Sarah Palin after last Monday’s show and it wasn’t until later that they began distributing the fabrications that Letterman had told a joke about Willow Palin. Right wing supporters of Sarah Palin have been organizing to attack David Letterman for quite a while; last January Alaska Dispatch repoted that TeamSarah.org was trying to shut down this source of criticism (which John McCain would have liked to be silenced during the campiagn) while sending out  this message:

Over 500 Team Sarah members protested to the FCC about Letterman’s unsavory comment about Gov. Palin. They are hearing from the FCC that it is launching an investigation!

 

PS. TV Week has the full transcript of Letterman's apology:

“All right, here – I’ve been thinking about this situation with Governor Palin and her family now for about a week – it was a week ago tonight, and maybe you know about it, maybe you don’t know about it. But there was a joke that I told, and I thought I was telling it about the older daughter being at Yankee Stadium. And it was kind of a coarse joke. There’s no getting around it, but I never thought it was anybody other than the older daughter, and before the show, I checked to make sure in fact that she is of legal age, 18. Yeah. But the joke really, in and of itself, can’t be defended. The next day, people are outraged. They’re angry at me because they said, ‘How could you make a lousy joke like that about the 14-year-old girl who was at the ball game?’ And I had, honestly, no idea that the 14-year-old girl, I had no idea that anybody was at the ball game except the Governor and I was told at the time she was there with Rudy Giuliani…And I really should have made the joke about Rudy…” (audience applauds) “But I didn’t, and now people are getting angry and they’re saying, ‘Well, how can you say something like that about a 14-year-old girl, and does that make you feel good to make those horrible jokes about a kid who’s completely innocent, minding her own business,’ and, turns out, she was at the ball game. I had no idea she was there. So she’s now at the ball game and people think that I made the joke about her. And, but still, I’m wondering, ‘Well, what can I do to help people understand that I would never make a joke like this?’ I’ve never made jokes like this as long as we’ve been on the air, 30 long years, and you can’t really be doing jokes like that. And I understand, of course, why people are upset. I would be upset myself.

“And then I was watching the Jim Lehrer ‘Newshour’ – this commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke. And I’m certainly – ” (audience applause) “- thank you. Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds) “Thank you. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience applause)

Anyone ever hear an apology such as this from people such as Rush Limbaugh, who has knowingly told jokes about children of Democrats who are under 18?

Palin supporters say they are continuing with their planned anti-Letterman protest outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater in NYC tomorrow evening.

Hatred Oozes

The agonizingly close relations between the GOP establishment and the loonier elements in the right wing media who have been on an increasingly mainstream basis feeding the hatred of the far right extremists who have been committing violence has been receiving increased attention. This has been discussed recently by Judith Warner, Paul Krugman, and Frank Rich. Krugman recently wrote, “Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.” Frank Rich discussed this topic at length in his latest column:

Conservatives have legitimate ideological beefs with Obama, rightly expressed in sharp language. But the invective in some quarters has unmistakably amped up. The writer Camille Paglia, a political independent and confessed talk-radio fan, detected a shift toward paranoia in the air waves by mid-May. When “the tone darkens toward a rhetoric of purgation and annihilation,” she observed in Salon, “there is reason for alarm.” She cited a “joke” repeated by a Rush Limbaugh fill-in host, a talk-radio jock from Dallas of all places, about how “any U.S. soldier” who found himself with only two bullets in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden would use both shots to assassinate Pelosi and then strangle Reid and bin Laden.

This homicide-saturated vituperation is endemic among mini-Limbaughs. Glenn Beck has dipped into O’Reilly’s Holocaust analogies to liken Obama’s policy on stem-cell research to the eugenics that led to “the final solution” and the quest for “a master race.” After James von Brunn’s rampage at the Holocaust museum, Beck rushed onto Fox News to describe the Obama-hating killer as a “lone gunman nutjob.” Yet in the same show Beck also said von Brunn was a symptom that “the pot in America is boiling,” as if Beck himself were not the boiling pot cheering the kettle on.

But hyperbole from the usual suspects in the entertainment arena of TV and radio is not the whole story. What’s startling is the spillover of this poison into the conservative political establishment. Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan G.O.P. chairman who ran for the party’s national chairmanship this year, seriously suggested in April that Republicans should stop calling Obama a socialist because “it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.” Anuzis pushed “fascism” instead, because “everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.” He didn’t seem to grasp that “fascism” is nonsensical as a description of the Obama administration or that there might be a risk in slurring a president with a word that most find “bad” because it evokes a mass-murderer like Hitler.

The Anuzis “fascism” solution to the Obama problem has caught fire. The president’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and his speech in Cairo have only exacerbated the ugliness. The venomous personal attacks on Sotomayor have little to do with the 3,000-plus cases she’s adjudicated in nearly 17 years on the bench or her thoughts about the judgment of “a wise Latina woman.” She has been tarred as a member of “the Latino KKK” (by the former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo), as well as a racist and a David Duke (by Limbaugh), and portrayed, in a bizarre two-for-one ethnic caricature, as a slant-eyed Asian on the cover of National Review. Uniting all these insults is an aggrieved note of white victimization only a shade less explicit than that in von Brunn’s white supremacist screeds.

Obama’s Cairo address, meanwhile, prompted over-the-top accusations reminiscent of those campaign rally cries of “Treason!” It was a prominent former Reagan defense official, Frank Gaffney, not some fringe crackpot, who accused Obama in The Washington Times of engaging “in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain.” He claimed that the president — a lifelong Christian — “may still be” a Muslim and is aligned with “the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood.” Gaffney linked Obama by innuendo with Islamic “charities” that “have been convicted of providing material support for terrorism.”

If this isn’t a handy rationalization for another lone nutjob to take the law into his own hands against a supposed terrorism supporter, what is? Any such nutjob can easily grab a weapon. Gun enthusiasts have been on a shopping spree since the election, with some areas of our country reporting percentage sales increases in the mid-to-high double digits, recession be damned.

Violence committed by right wing (or left wing) extremists is the more serious problem. But a similar, even if less violent, mindset can be seen in the recent outrage against David Letterman: despite agreement from Letterman that he should not have told a joke which was clearly about Bristol Palin, and despite the fact that Bristol Palin has been the target of jokes from multiple comedians largely because of the manner in which Sarah Palin has intentionally placed her children in the public spotlight for political gain, many of them continue to attack with outright lies as to what Letterman actually said.

There was no point in attacks on David Letterman once he conceded that he should not have told the joke, with many of these conservatives proceeding to over play their hand and ultimately discrediting themselves. The controversy is about the desire of the authoritarian base of the Republican Party, which has hijacked the right, to prevent any criticism of their extremist agenda and has little to do with any real concern about sexist jokes. They tend to wage their war with little regard for fact, with such distortions being common place. This has included a similar distortion of a joke told by John Kerry in 2006, the fabrications of the Swift Boat Liars, all the lies about Obama which were spread during the presidential campaign, and the recent lies about Sotomayor such as that sixty percent of her decisions have been overturned (& not surprisingly though, even a Next Right editor repeated it.) While less extreme and violent than those who have been committing violence, the conservative movement has increasingly become dominated by those who show hostility towards reason, freedom of expression, and the contemporary culture.

 

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