Top 11 (non-racist) Reasons Sarah Palin Left Hawaii

The Huffington Post is reporting that Sarah Palin‘s father, Chuck Heath, told biographers that his famous daughter left college in Hawaii because Asians made her uncomfortable. They highlight a passage from the New Yorker book review of “Sarah From Alaska” to make the case that the “Going Rogue” author’s escape from the Islands was a case of white flight. Not convinced? Here are 10 other reasons it could have been.

Here’s the passage in question, first flagged by The New Republic:

According to (Heath), the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uncomfortable: “They were a minority type thing and it wasn’t glamorous, so she came home.”

TNR asks why this passage hasn’t gotten more media attention. As the 3rd-most-popular post on HuffPo, I’d say that’s on its way to being a moot question. Still, I would hazard a guess that a paraphrase of a 25 year old conversation doesn’t quite meet the bar for calling someone a racist.

Palin herself says, in Going Rogue, that ” “Hawaii was a little too perfect…Perpetual sunshine isn’t necessarily conducive to serious academics for eighteen-year-old Alaska girls.”

For those of you who aren’t convinced that Palin was a teenage xenophobe, but are equally disinclined to take her at her word, here are some other possibilities.

Top 11 Reasons Sarah Palin Left Hawaii for Idaho State

11. Palin was angry that that she’d spent months trying to learn to “speak Macadamian.”

10. After an entire semester, she still hadn’t managed to get lei’ed.

9. Couldn’t shake the terrifying feeling that ukulele players were actually giants holding guitars.

8. Was unable to see Russia, or any other country, from her dorm.

7. Spooked by rerun of “The Brady Bunch” Hawaii 3-parter.

6. Actually loved Hawaii, but really wanted to meet Don Ho’s mom, Ida.

5. Was ejected by US Geological Survey for trying to get volcanoes to “abstain from erupting.”

4. Thought she could do more for Hawaii by going to Idaho.

3. Disappointed that locally purchased Hawaiian Punch didn’t taste more “authentic.”

2. Refused to stand before Hawaii Pacific University’s “F Panel.”

1. Fled police inquiries into attempted birth certificate heist.

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In Defense of Sarah Palin’s Alleged ‘Retarded Baby’ Jokes

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At the risk of being accused, again, of link-baiting, I feel the need to come to Sarah Palin’s defense here.  Levi Johnston is all over the TV in the run-up to the revelation of his Johnston in Playgirl, and promising of Palin that he will “leak some things on her.”  Thanks for that visual.

One of those leaks is that Palin, apparently, would make “retarded baby” jokes about son Trig.
Continue reading

Keith Olbermann Issues “Fox-twa” on Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes

Cross-posted from Mediaite

Countdown host Keith Olbermann has issued a call to the millions of readers at Daily Kos to dig up some dirt (real dirt, not this kind) on Fox News personality Glenn Beck, his producer, and Roger Ailes.  The “Fox-twa” comes on the heels of the resignation of Obama adviser Van Jones, whose abrupt departure has been attributed to a weeks-long campaign by Beck.  The Scrabble-averse pundit has already set his sights on new quarry, and Keith is pushing back.

In a blog post at Daily Kos, Olbermann makes this straightforward plea:

I don’t know why I’ve got this phrasing in my head, but: Find everything you can about Glenn Beck,  Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes.

Predictably, Olbermann’s decree has been met with apoplexy from the right, casting Beck as the future victim of a “smear campaign.”  I’m not sure what the logic here is, unless the right is now conceding that Van Jones was also the victim of a smear campaign.

So far, the lion’s share of the 1,350 Kos commenters have ignored Olbermann’s request, however, leaving some poor intern to sift through suggestions to stop watching The Simpsons and NFL Football.  Good luck with that.

Others have posted links detailing some Beck that has already slipped through the cracks:

  • agreed that America’s only hope is for Bin Laden to blow us up.
  • fantasized about choking Michael Moore to death.
  • advocated beating Rep. Charles Rangel with a shovel.
  • declared that he hated the families of 9/11 survivors.
  • declared that he hated Katrina victims, whom he called scumbags.
  • incited people to commit tax evasion.
  • accused Obama of having a deep seated hatred of white people (but isn’t a racist?).

Olbermann also announced plans to issue his plea on Tuesday’s broadcast, and to set up a dedicated tipster’s email.  In future news, Keith Olbermann’s Tipster Email Spammed By Conservatives.

Also noteworthy: Olbermann again denies that he ever agreed to a truce with Bill O’Reilly, and in the comments, observes unironically that “This guy does not take criticism well.”

It’s tough to say whether a TV and blog audience will be able to outdo some googling and a Lexis-Nexis search, but Beck is unlikely to gain any traction playing the victim here.  Much of that depends on the zeal and methodology of Keith’s million deputies.

Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Pubic Option

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The current sticking point on health insurance reform is the public health insurance option, with a majority of congressional Democrats favoring it, a handful of Blue Dogs wetting themselves over it, and the Republicans hallucinating about it.  What’s being left out of the equation in Washington is how the American people feel about it.

Polling on this issue has been misleading.  After a June poll showed 76% support for a public health insurance option, pollsters simply stopped asking that question.  Instead, they’d ask overly broad questions about the overall reform effort, and the headlines were all about “slipping support.” Nowhere was it considered that the “slipping support” might have had something to do with the regular reports of the death of the public option.

When they finally did ask again, 79% of Americans said they favor a public option.

What hasn’t really changed, and what everyone acknowledges, is that almost everyone opposes the pubic option.  That’s the one where the insurance companies have you by the short ones, able to refuse you coverage for a pre-existing condition, deny your services with their own death panels, retroactively terminate you if you get sick and made a mistake on your application, and pretty much just build their profits into whatever coverage you get, because your life depends on it.

The problem is, the public option is the only real solution to the pubic option.  There’s no way to pass regulations strong enough to ensure that you don’t end up with cheap, junk insurance that’s already putting people in the poor house (Try to remember the last time your auto insurance paid for anything).  The public option will serve as that safety net, and despite even more recent rumblings that it’s been left for dead, the President can, must, and will make sure it passes.

Postlet #1: Really? The PhRMA Deal Sucks?

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Tonight, I introduce the postlet.  The name might indicate a short blog post, but what it really is is a post that’s short on links and polish, and long on me mouthing off because I am constantly having my time wasted, so I’m really annoyed.  I’m also including a random picture, because I like my posts to have a picture, but I don’t feel like thinking of one that goes with this post.

I’m not going to tell you who has been wasting my time today, because I want you to have the fun that comes with those “blind gossip” items, like, “Who’s the blonde starlet recently seen playing nude backgammon with that married entertainment lawyer?” or “What committee has press people who don’t, y’know, interact with the press?”

On a completely unrelated note, someone in the press is finally noticing how awful the $80 billion PhRMA deal is.  Except not really.  This Fortune article misses everything I pointed out in June, but does point out new awfulness that’s based on details that hadn’t emerged when I wrote mine.  So, add this + this.  Well, I guess now we know all we need to know about that story.

Media Eager to Report Death of Public Option

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The big story this morning, aside from Mad Men and Michael Vick, is the death of the public health insurance option.  On  TV, on newspaper front pages, and on blogs, various stages of the public option’s demise are being reported.  The basis for all of this pessimistic reporting?  Statements, this weekend, by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the public option is not a deal-breaker.

Ex-sueeze me?  That’s the big news?  This is one of those questions that come up so often at White House briefings, we can all recite the answer like a well-dressed Rocky Horror audience.  “The President strongly supports a public health insurance option, but the main goal is to provide health care reform that results in quality, affordable care for every American.”  (throw toast at Gibbs)

The media has stood ready to stick a fork in the public option since this debate began.  Off the top of my head, there was this July report that Rahm Emanuel had “caved” on the public option by answering this very question.  That story was quickly walked back by the President later that day.

The White House’s strategy seems to have been to “rope-a-dope” on the public option, putting it out there and letting opponents punch themselves out at it.  In the end, the White House doesn’t need the Republicans, or many of the Blue Dogs, to push this through.  The question is whether or not they realize what’s at stake.

An even bigger question is, why is the media so ready to eulogize the public option?  While recent polls have reflected slipping support for health care reform as it is being debated, those same polls either show overwhelming support for the public option, or they simply don’t ask.

There are two obvious answers.  First, corporate influence over the mass media that drives news coverage is always a popular go-to bogeyman, and not necessarily in the tinfoil-y, paranoid sense.  A media culture that intersects so strongly with a corporate culture is bound to reflect those values disproportionately.

There’s also the voracious nature of the 24-hour, 1440-minute news cycle that grants outsized importance to mundanities and inanities, particularly in the entertainment-starved dog days.

The answer is a combination of the two, abetted by desperate and dishonest opponents of the public option and their squeaky wheels.  Look for the White House to spend the day, and the week, pushing back against this.

Hey, Folks, it’s the House Healthcare Bill By Request! Section 312 Subsections B and C

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(in radio-guy voice) Welcome to Tommy eh-eh-eh-X’s House Healthcare Morning Zoo! (funny sound effect)  This next request comes from the poster with the most-er, the tweep who will make you weep, Kimberly HANEYYYYY! (cue sexy sax music)

Kimberly writes in “Dear Tommy EH-EH-EH-X!!! (explosion sound effect), please decipher Pg 145 Line 15-17 – in your words, please.”

Happy to do it, Kimmie, so buckle the (BLEEEP) up, baby, ‘cus here..it..COMES! Continue reading

Now We Finally Know What Sarah Palin Reads

Death_PanelSarah Palin has been getting justly picked apart by the sane portion of the media all week for her “Death Panel” crazy talk, which she posted on her Facebook page last Friday.  Curiously, she has not offered much in the way of elaboration or defense of the outrageous and dishonest claim.  That is, until now.

Palin has posted a response to President Obama’s Tuesday remarks on Palin’s lie.  Why the day-and-a-half delay in responding to Obama, and the 5 day response time to the sane people of the world?  I’m guessing it took her that long to cobble together the strained defenses that others have mounted for her, both those she cited (Charles Lane and Eugene Robinson), and those she didn’t (Camille Paglia) but obviously read.  All of them suffer from an inability to distinguish between a description of a medically recommended service, as it would appear in any private insurance company’s Specific Plan Document, and a call for euthanasia.

She twists mightily to spin their overreaching, highly disclaimed agreement with her into affirmation of her lie, but falls short right at the end.  The linchpin to her death panel lie is an article that was co-written by Zeke Emanuel and 2 others.  Here’s how Palin puts it:

My original comments concerned statements made by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy advisor to President Obama and the brother of the President’s chief of staff. Dr. Emanuel has written that some medical services should not be guaranteed to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens….An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” [10] Dr. Emanuel has also advocated basing medical decisions on a system which “produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.” [11]

Even granting the idiotic premise that two cherry-picked sentences from the collected writings of Zeke Emanuel have some relevance to the health care reform currently being debated, Palin’s assertions are false.  Both articles are ethical treatises about the allocation of truly scarce resources like donor organs, decisions which are made by “death panels” (the pros call ’em “Transplant Committees”) every day.  Nothing in either article has anything to do with end of life counseling or services, nor the establishment of any kind of panel.

Will the media bother to read either article in full, or the dreaded section 1233?  We’ll see, but my instinct is that the waters have been sufficiently muddied so that Robert Gibbs can look forward to some more “he said/she said” coverage.

Pelosi and Hoyer Undercut Message With ‘Un-American’ Rhetoric

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today that makes a lot of excellent points about the current healthcare debate.  Unfortunately, they lead with the kind of loaded statement that plays into the right’s “stifling dissent” meme.  The title of the piece is ‘Un-American’ attacks can’t derail health care debate.

Forget, for a moment, whether Pelosi and Hoyer actually make an effective case for the Un-Americaninity of the town hall protesters.  For the top two members of the House of Representatives to use the phrase “Un-American” bespeaks a tone-deafness beyond belief, evoking echoes of McCarthyism.  It also represents a hypocritical brandishing of the patriotism cudgel that the Democrats have just spent 8 years decrying.

The shame of it all is that the loaded phrase only appears once in the body of the article, and doesn’t really add much to the proceedings:

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

The fact is, there are many things you can call the protesters, but “Un-American” isn’t one of them, especially not from a liberal standpoint.  Are they rude?  Misinformed?  In some cases, delusional?  All of these are expressions of freedom that are as American as an apple pie baked by a bald eagle at a baseball game.

While they are correct in denouncing things like effigies of specific members of congress, they are clearly referring to the disruptive protesters as a whole, and the language of McCarthy is inappropriate and unhelpful.

The American response to these protesters is not to call them “Un-American,” but to shine the light of truth on them.  When they chant, invite them up on stage and see what facts they’ve brought with them.  The balance of Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s piece contain some facts that are pretty tough to argue with:

The first fact is that health insurance reform will mean more patient choice. It will allow every American who likes his or her current plan to keep it. And it will free doctors and patients to make the health decisions that make the most sense, not the most profits for insurance companies.

Reform will mean stability and peace of mind for the middle class. Never again will medical bills drive Americans into bankruptcy; never again will Americans be in danger of losing coverage if they lose their jobs or if they become sick; never again will insurance companies be allowed to deny patients coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Lower costs, better care

Reform will mean affordable coverage for all Americans. Our plan’s cost-lowering measures include a public health insurance option to bring competitive pressure to bear on rapidly consolidating private insurers, research on health outcomes to better inform the decisions of patients and doctors, and electronic medical records to help doctors save money by working together. For seniors, the plan closes the notorious Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” that denies drug coverage to those with between $2,700 and $6,100 per year in prescriptions.

Reform will also mean higher-quality care by promoting preventive care so health problems can be addressed before they become crises. This, too, will save money. We’ll be a much healthier country if all patients can receive regular checkups and tests, such as mammograms and diabetes exams, without paying a dime out-of-pocket.

Scary Obama OFA Edict:”Visit Rep. Adler’s office in Toms River”

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What kind of sorcery is this?  Organizing for America sent me an email (a technology that I’m still not convinced won’t at least “borrow without asking” my soul) urging me to visit my local Democratic congressman.  Eerily so: (via email)

According to our records, you live near Rep. John Adler’s office in Toms River, NJ.

We’re through the looking glass, here, people. They know where I live! Continue reading