Palin calls for increasing funding for special-needs children
In a 20-minute speech that touched on some of the most personal and emotional moments in her life, Sarah Palin this morning called for increasing federal funding for special-needs children and expanding access to special education. . . .
"The true measure of society is how it treats its most vulnerable," Palin said. . . Palin said parents should be able to send special-needs children to "the school of their choice, public or private."
Federal funding should be tied to families, rather than institutions, she said, so it can "follow those children." Palin blamed Congressional earmarks for siphoning money from special-needs education and called for "fully funding" the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
OK, what -- what would I cut? I would have, first of all, across-the-board spending freeze, OK?
I recommend a spending freeze that -- except for defense, Veterans Affairs, and some other vital programs, we'll just have to have across-the-board freeze.
In the third debate, McCain, when challenged by Obama, specifically said his spending freeze applied to programs for special needs children:
OBAMA: Well, look, I think that we do have a disagreement about an across-the-board spending freeze. . . And, in fact, an across-the-board spending freeze is a hatchet, and we do need a scalpel . . . And I think it's very commendable the work [Palin]'s done on behalf of special needs. I agree with that, John.
I do want to just point out that autism, for example, or other special needs will require some additional funding, if we're going to get serious in terms of research. That is something that every family that advocates on behalf of disabled children talk about.
And if we have an across-the-board spending freeze, we're not going to be able to do it. That's an example of, I think, the kind of use of the scalpel that we want to make sure that we're funding some of those programs. . . .
MCCAIN: But again, I want to come back to, notice every time Senator Obama says, "We need to spend more, we need to spend more, that's the answer" -- why do we always have to spend more?
John McCain will impose a spending freeze in government to cover all but the most vital functions.
Yet a mere two weeks later, before she's even in office, here is Palin overriding McCain's pledge and demanding untold millions of dollars in increased federal spending for non-defense-related programs. Funding for improved educational opportunities and research for special-needs children is certainly a proper and important role for government, but as is so often the case on the Right when it comes to government spending, "vital" apparently means "programs that benefit me," while any that don't -- those that only benefit "others" -- can be slashed and frozen as unnecessary. And, on a side note, is the McCain campaign capable of embracing a theme for more than 72 hours before abandoning and reversing it?
* * * * *
On an unrelated though important note, Jon Swift reviews just some of the most significant and impressive investigations undertaken by the citizen-journalist-bloggers on the Right as part of the 2008 election.
UPDATE: The New Yorker's George Packer reviewed the above-linked Jon Swift piece on the deranged, year-long election ramblings of leading right-wing blogs, including National Review -- what Packer calls "the sewage of these Web sites" -- and compares it to the most paranoid and reality-detached fever swamps of radical Islam. The difference, though, is that the mentality of the former has been guiding the world's sole superpower for the last eight years, while the mentality of the latter has not.
Speaking of that mentality, here is Sarah Palin yesterday -- in the very same speech where she urged more federal spending for research into the causes of autism -- railing against earmarks for supposedly frivolous, wasteful projects such as "fruit fly research in Paris, France," an example, she claimed, of "political pet projects" which "have little or nothing to do with the public good":
As demonstrated by this email I received from a scientist at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, to assert that fruit fly research -- even if it takes places in wicked Paris -- "has little or nothing to do with the public good" is about as deceitful as it gets:
Since Thomas Hunt Morgan began his research into the genetics of Drosophila melanogaster in 1903 (for which he eventually won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1933), the fruit fly has been one of science's most critical and versatile animal models for our understanding of the interplay between fundamental genetics, molecular biology, the biochemistry of proteins, the function of the cell, and the development of a complex organism.
It's true that there are numerous wasteful earmark projects and the process itself can be a reflection of -- and can fuel -- typical corruption in Congress, but many of those projects are vital. Melodramatically urging increased funding for childhood diseases while simultaneously mocking science research projects such as this is about as irrational -- and as knowledge-hating and anti-science -- as it gets.
Not only did Sarah Palin seem to oppose McCain's spending freeze today, but....
I'm certain that you have heard of this gaffe during Palin's "policy" speech today about McCain initiatives for special needs children. . . . In short, Palin attempts to grandstand on earmarks by taking a cheap shot at frivolous sounding research - an echo of the "bear dna" bit from the debates.
Sometimes these dollars, they go to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France.
At this point, it seems almost ridiculous to point out every irresponsible, vapid thought that comes out of the would-be VP, but, as a physician-scientist, I cannot let this pass. Since Thomas Hunt Morgan began his research into the genetics of Drosophila melanogaster in 1903 (for which he eventually won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1933), the fruit fly has been one of science's most critical and versatile animal models for our understanding of the interplay between fundamental genetics, molecular biology, the biochemistry of proteins, the function of the cell, and the development of a complex organism. The lists of genes/subsequent proteins identified and studied for functionality - and eventually translated into our understanding of mammalian proteins and the pathologic basis of human disease (and in some cases, therapeutic avenues to ameliorate those diseases), fill vast databases (for example, www.flybase.org). I am uncertain of what poor researcher's funding Palin was sniping at, but I'm certain that the project was carefully vetted through the peer review process and may very well be critical to our understanding of the biochemical basis of whatever disease (autism? DS?) the lab was studying.
I wonder if this is what it felt like to lawyers when Palin talked about Roe vs. Wade and the right to privacy in the Constitution. To me as a scientist, this is the ultimate offensive, egregious, shocking example of the truth about Sarah Palin: we have a vice presidential candidate who cannot (or will not, or cares not to) understand anything that takes more than four lines to draw on the back of a cocktail napkin. I take that back, she probably has no idea who Arthur Laffer is either. If she feels that she has the grand wisdom to micromanage the progression of science, at least she could pretend to understand the littlest bit about what she's manipulating.
The McCain/Palin people keep attacking Obama's health care plan with the straw man of government bureaucrats making decisions about your health care. Apparently, Sarah Palin doesn't just want to deny people from getting the (eventual) health care they need, she wants to send the entire industry back to the stone age.
But, I guess there's no real reason why a public official needs to have an understanding of the details of ANYTHING, they just need to be good deciders (sic)!
Yours from a federally funded scientific student,