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Would-be climate destroyer Sarah Palin attacks Obama for “generational theft”

By Joe Romm  

"Would-be climate destroyer Sarah Palin attacks Obama for “generational theft”"


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Ex-gov writes “energy” on her hand, apparently so she’d remember to mention it.


The annual convention of hypocrites with short memory (aka the Tea Partiers) paid FoxNews commentator Sarah Palin $100,000 to repeat conservative talking points:

Sarah Palin says President Barack Obama’s proposed 2011 budget is “immoral” because it increases the national debt, which she called “generational theft.”

Palin told the national “tea party” convention Saturday that America’s national debt, which is held largely by other nations, “makes us less free” and “should tick us off.”

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee got one of several standing ovations from the gathering of about 600 people when she said the nation is drowning in debt. The Obama administration argues that much of the nation’s debt is being caused by tax cuts and a Medicare drug program enacted under former President George W. Bush.

Given that anti-science conservatives like Palin are the champions of the most grievous imaginable “generational theft” — doing nothing to stop catastrophic climate change — and given that they continue to push this “generational theft” meme, I’m going to update my earlier response (see “The Generational Theft Act of 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001″¦.).”

But first, yes, those are crib notes on her left hand — top word “energy” — as HuffPost (and photo below) show:


I must say it is odd she put “energy” on her hand when

  1. She seems in the video to be using written notes from the lectern (which is entirely reasonable for her to do).
  2. She is supposedly an expert on energy and talks about it in every one of her speeches.
  3. She had little to say about energy in the speech, other than she likes nukes (“carbon-free energy”) and drilling, but hates “cap and tax.”

The fact that she got the Tea Partiers to pay $100,000 for this mismash of right-wing talking points proves she is not as dumb as some people condescendingly think!  But I digress.  Back to “generational theft.”

The conservatives-who-make-your-head-explode crowd [yes, that may be is redundant] first attempted to label the stimulus bill, “The Generational Theft Act of 2009.” ThinkProgress had an excellent post on the right-wing message machine’s effort to turn Michelle Malkin’s label into a fatal brand.  Now Palin is picking up the phrase to attack Obama budget, which in fact is another crucial effor to continue the clean energy transition and continue our climb out of the Bush-Cheney depression.

Fortunately, the label is doomed to fail for two simple reasons “” the message is not simple, and it lacks reason.

First, thank goodness conservatives no longer seem to be making much use of the services of word-meister Frank Luntz (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah“). He would never try to push a slogan based on a five-syllable word.

You’d have to look long and hard in the annals of advertising, politics, poetry, religion, and speechmaking to find a single memorable phrase with a five-syllable word in it. Go on. Try to find one. I dare ya!

As Churchill wrote in an unpublished essay, “The Scaffolding of Rhetoric,” at the age of 23 (!), “All the speeches of great English rhetoricians “¦ display an uniform preference for short, homely words of common usage” (see “Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1“).

Second, if any group of people are guilty of generational theft, that would be conservatives.


The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy “” that would be generational theft.

The Iraq war and its trillion dollar liability, including hundreds of billions of dollars in Veteran’s costs for decades to come, all “paid for” with money borrowed from our children “” that would be generational theft.

[It would be funny if it weren't sad to hear conservatives adding in the future "interest" payments to talk up the full cost of the stimulus bill. They have never cared about future interest payments or the full cost of anything they do (see, for instance, "The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More").]

And, of course, the Bush administration’s successful effort to block domestic and international climate action, the steadfast opposition of conservative politicians to climate action, and indeed, the effort by the entire conservative movement stagnation to ridicule scientists and spread disinformation aimed at delaying action “” that would be generational theft.

Palin, of course, has become a leader of the do-nothing crowd (see WashPost goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months “” on climate science and the hacked emails!).

Indeed, the latest science makes clear that if we continue listening to conservative deniers and delayers for many more years, we won’t just be thieving some money from the next generation “” we will be stealing a livable climate from our children and their children and countless future generations (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe).

You want to debate Generational Theft, conservatives? Bring it on!

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27 Responses to Would-be climate destroyer Sarah Palin attacks Obama for “generational theft”

  1. Dan says:

    My my, you seem to be feeling partisan this weekend.

    [JR: How is this partisan? She's just a FoxNews commentator. You're not saying they are partisan, are you?]

  2. Doug Bostrom says:

    Right hand:

    “$100,000 invoice. Neimann Marcus.”

  3. Ben Lieberman says:

    If we could get to her hand and write something else on it, would she change her speech?

  4. Tim L. says:

    Considering how they lap up b.s. ladled out by birthers, ‘baggers, & bigots, the “Tea Party” is a “movement” to be flushed.

  5. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    The debt level is still horrific.

    [JR: No. The debt added by Bush-Cheney is bad and unwarranted, but the Obama debt is far less "horrific" than the alternative -- the Bush-Cheney depression.]

    Stop fighting other people’s wars and let them find their own form of democracy. The blowback is always worse than the original problem and ends up entrenching anti US sentiment.

    US troops all over the world is a massive unappreciated subsidy to a lot of countries that should be standing on their own two feet.

  6. Leif says:

    Arctic climate changing faster than predicted yet again.
    But I an sure Sarah has taken this all into her considerations.

  7. David Herron says:

    These “conservatives” have no credibility on this issue (not that that will stop them). If they were really concerned about fiscal responsibility they would have been screaming bloody murder through the whole of the BushII and BushI and Reagan era. Oh and applauding during the Clinton years. Instead they’re doing the reverse. This means they’re not at all following their own ideology and instead are simply acting on partisan grounds.

  8. Ron Broberg says:

    Sarah Palin says President Barack Obama’s proposed 2011 budget is “immoral” because it increases the national debt, which she called “generational theft.”

    I thought she was a Reagan fan?

  9. Lore says:

    You have got to be kidding, some people take this woman seriously? Here, I thought writing crib notes on your hand went out with cheating on high school tests, yet teabaggers consider her as a savvy presidential contender. Shouldn’t she at least be taught the fine art of teleprompter reading?

    One must really consider the number two position for any political run for presidential election. Most likely that will be the antichrist we would end up with in a successful campaign.

  10. mike roddy says:

    I hope Sarah runs for president on the Teabagger ticket. Independents will then be bewildered when they watch Republicans pander to them, and try to adopt their slogans.

    One of the reasons Clinton won in 1992 was Ross Perot. Obama’s having so much trouble lately he may need Sarah in 2012.

  11. Ron Broberg says:

    I’ll say this for Palin et al.

    I believe that the National Debt (total: federal, consumer, commercial) will crush this country within a decade or two. I believe that the foundation of that debt is that the US oil production peaked. We measure wealth in dollars – but in the real world it is measured in BTUs/calories/joules. While energy seems very ‘fungible’, it is not. Very few vehicles are powered on natural gas, propane, or electricity. Oil plays a unique role in our transportation infrastructure. With declining domestic oil production, the US has had to turn to debt and borrowing to finance our economic growth for the last 30 years (see any debt chart). As the US slips deeper into debt – we have less access to credit to finance a shift to renewables, to purchase new PEVs, to nuture the ethanol industry.

    While we dream of ‘doing more with less’, without increased access to domestic oil, we are likely to be ‘doing less with less.’

  12. dhogaza says:

    Shouldn’t she at least be taught the fine art of teleprompter reading?

    By the time the anti-science types are done with us, one’s palm will *be* the only teleprompter technology left.

  13. espiritwater says:

    Sarah Palin says President Barack Obama’s proposed 2011 budget is “immoral” because it increases the national debt, which she called “generational theft.”

    Palin told the national “tea party” convention Saturday that America’s national debt, which is held largely by other nations, “makes us less free” and “should tick us off.”


    I thought all this happened under bush– or anyhow, he squandered all the surplus from the Clinton administration and had to go to the Chinese to bail us out and gave trillions of dollars for the bank bail outs? (don’t watch that much news, but it seems our country started going broke under Bush’s watch?!)

  14. Dana says:

    It goes without saying that the teabaggers aren’t a bright group of people (to put it mildly), but to buy this ‘generational theft’ argument when it was the Republicans who turned Clinton’s surplus into a massive debt to begin with just boggles the mind.

    Fortunately the ignorant angry mob is still a relatively small minority. And maybe we’ll be fortunate that they’ll manage to nominate a number of unelectable ultra right-wingers during the primaries.

  15. Prokaryote says:

    Conservationist: Colo. sees climate change effects
    Associated Press – February 7, 2010 4:14 PM ET
    DENVER (AP) – The head of 1 of the country’s largest conservation groups is warning that Colorado is in the “bull’s eye of climate change” and says the state’s hunters and anglers are seeing firsthand the effects of warmer temperatures.

    National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger says the bark beetle infestation that has killed about 3 million pine trees in Colorado is the result of climate change. Biologists say the insects have proliferated without stretches of subzero weather to kill them.

    Schweiger says hunters and anglers see the effects of climate change as higher temperatures threaten cold-water fish like trout and vegetation that wildlife depend on. He is visiting states including Colorado to build support for a bill in the U.S. Senate that would cut greenhouse gas emissions.

  16. Nancy Botoxi says:

    ‘Bout the only thing most everyone else on this blog has in their hands are their brains! Careful you don’t dribble when you’re done…

  17. Linda Sutton says:

    sarah palin- an insult to my gender – go home – lay down and stay there

  18. Byron Smith says:

    I’m with you here. Palin is a pretty face on a pretty ugly collection of policies.

    Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist your challenge: You’d have to look long and hard in the annals of advertising, politics, poetry, religion, and speechmaking to find a single memorable phrase with a five-syllable word in it. Go on. Try to find one. I dare ya!

    The 16thC Reformation included much heated discussion of the famous slogan “Justification by faith alone”. Jus-ti-fi-ca-tion. :-)

  19. Zan says:

    After our reaction to Sarah’s whingeing began to approach intense pain and we turned off her TN Tea Party speech, I said to my husband: “Maybe instead of water-boarding suspected terrorists, we could have Sarah Palin talk to them.” Implying no, he answered, “It’s against the Geneva Convention.”

    Palin’s very mean to Obama, and quite divisive. The fact that she has a pretty, charismatic face and sparkly personality while her words are, internally, intensely ugyl, scares the @#&! out of us.

    Only Sarah Palin would have the guts to be a terribly incurious student and then fault Barack for being a Law Professor(As if the U.S. President didn’t NEED to be an exceptional person, not just our beer buddy). We think she would be even worse than G. W. Bush, as president.

  20. BLOGASSAULT says:


    [JR: All caps went out in ... middle school? Seriously.]

  21. mike roddy says:



  22. Palin is beginning to look weird. She has that high-school-girl hair, but her face is really aging.

    When you look at her, first you see the image conveyed by the carefully prepared hair. Then if you look more carefully, you see that the reality of the face doesn’t match.

    The mismatch between image and reality says something about Palin.

  23. toby says:

    The “law professor” stuff is a load of rubbish.

    The meme they are peddling is that she and Bush are “simple patriots” who know instinctively what to do, and what is right for the country.

    Suppose Kennedy had been a “simple patriot” during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Or Reagan a “simple patriot” in his tortuous negotiations with Gorbachov? Harry Truman was a simple man without the intellectual breadth of FDR. However, he used his advisors to good effect, making sure they supplied what he knew he lacked. Bush wanted to be considered another Truman, but he did not have the patience or the humility.

    Wasn’t it H.L.Mencken who said: “For every complex question, there is a simple answer, and it is usually wrong.”

  24. Chris Winter says:

    #16: “‘Bout the only thing most everyone else on this blog has in their hands are their brains! Careful you don’t dribble when you’re done…”

    Why are liberals always so condescending to conservatives???


  25. David B. Benson says:

    Parade of the ignoranti.

  26. Robert says:

    I must apologize … its quite possible we wrongly are giving Sarah a bad rap. She’s really a very special gifted person. Some would call her clairvoyant, with her … new palm reading skills! … Oh Sarah!

  27. John Casey (who is not me, if you’re wondering) has some independent comments about the accusations of “liberal condescension” over at The NonSequitor: http://thenonsequitur.com/?p=1811

    (FWIW, I think Casey’s blog handsomely complement’s Joe’s here; the former’s focus upon more generic issues of logic and critical thinking are very much on point with the specific problems encountered with climate deniers.)