Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Education by E-mail

While I hear and even sympathize with my Republican friends’ complaints that Barack Obama is being given a nearly free ride in the press, I also have to question the impact of the media (and the quarter million Obama has spent introducing himself to the world) as well as the intellectual permeability of the average American when I keep running into people who don’t seem to have turned on a radio or TV, or picked up a newspaper or magazine in the last year.

If the media attention surrounding Barack Obama is so gushingly over-the-top, why does a recent Newsweek poll still find that 25 percent of people in this country mistakenly believe Obama was raised a Muslim? Why do 40 percent think he attended a Muslim school while growing up? And why, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, do 12 percent think he is still a Muslim today?

Do these people eschew all legitimate media sources and get all their news from forwards found in their e-mail inboxes? Because that is where you can find the erroneous and completely distortive e-mail claiming Obama is a radical, subversive Muslim who took his oath of office on a copy of the Koran. (As if there is something inherently wrong with being a Muslim or taking the oath of office on the Koran.) For those who continue to forward such e-mails, the definition of erroneous is “containing or characterized by error.” That a fancy word for a lie. Surely you know that one.

These e-mails are where you can find openly racist buttons sold during a Republican convention in Texas reading, “If Obama were to win, could we still call it the White House?” or repugnant t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Obama / Osama – Only a One Letter Difference.” Really!? So that means that Bonnie Hiller and Melissa Starin, residents of Washington D.C. whom I randomly chose from my phone book, both want to butcher millions of helpless Jews and Russians like Hitler and Stalin, right? Yet, despite the overt ridiculousness of statements like these, we accept the “I’m not going to vote for Obama because he has a name which sounds like a terrorist so he must be a terrorist himself” defense as if it is a legitimate reason rather than the uninformed, ignorant, backward comment that it is.

These e-mails are where you can find stories insisting Obama hates America, declines to say the pledge of allegiance, refuses to wear a lapel flag pin (in this scenario, Donald Rumsfeld is an uber-patriot for wearing his flag pin while personally directing thousands of American soldiers to their deaths), and is not really a Christian. (Just for the record, there was a bit of a scandal with Obama’s pastor of 20 years a few months back. You may have heard something about it. It was sorta kinda a big deal with a lot of people who, admittedly, wouldn’t know a big deal if it fell in their laps.)

John McCain isn’t officially floating these ideas. After all, he can’t possibly get his information from e-mail forwards, because he doesn’t even have an e-mail account. Inspiring a globalized planet fundamentally transformed and flattened by the information revolution, the nearly 72-year-old McCain recently admitted that he had not mastered the Internet, relies on his wife and aides to surf the net for him and has “never felt the particular need to e-mail.”

But McCain is doing the next best thing to firing off scurrilous, inflammatory e-mails by impinging Obama’s American-ness instead. Unable to dent Obama on the issues, McCain has recently turned to blasting Obama’s character, patriotism and basic humanity.

Over the weekend, the McCain camp released a television advertisement in which the announcer says that, while on his overseas trip, Obama “made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops” even though they know full well the Pentagon cancelled the visit (a trip which, by the way, the media was not invited to attend). Then again, it’s not all that surprising when you consider that McCain attacked and goaded Obama to visit the war zone in the first place and when Obama did, assailed him for leaving the United States in a time of such economic peril.

Hey McCain camp, Obama’s overseas visit was pretty successful, don’t you think!? Since returning, Obama is now beating your candidate by nearly 10 points in almost all nation-wide polls. Do you really want to goad him into hanging out with more soldiers? Cause last I checked your new ad bashes Obama for not visiting the troops by showing footage of Obama visiting the troops. That’s him, by the way, in the gym in question, playing basketball with the soldiers. Any more bright ideas!?

Worse still, McCain recently suggested that Obama cares more about winning an election than winning the war, saying regularly that, “It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.” In the aforementioned commercial, the announcer says that “John McCain is always there for our troops,” concluding with the campaign’s new slogan: “McCain, country first.”

The implication is clear: Obama cares more about his own political ambitions than the national interest. While Rule One of the Republican Bible is paint your Democratic opponent as a liberal weenie who has no concept of the military or national security, McCain’s latest hit is unforgivable. To insinuate that a presidential contender would rather American soldiers die, would rather his own family be imperiled, and, if you believe the conservative machine, would rather invite further attacks on U.S. soil just so he can get a cushy job, is shameful, disgraceful, ignominious, despicable and unworthy of anyone seeking high office.

Not only that, they are the desperate actions of a man watching his dreams collide with the cataclysmic failure of his own ideals and the dawning of a leader for a new era.


Blogger Rhonda said...

A few months ago, I got one of those e-mails from a cousin I correspond with occasionally. Being a dyed-in-the-wool proud Democrat, I immediately fired back a link to a site refuting every idiotic word. I wished afterwards that I'd also said, "How long have you been a bigot?" or "Send this on to everyone who got that piece of crap from you."
As it was, I got no reply - I'd like to think that's because she was embarrassed.
A week or so ago, I was with that cousin's parents and they started discussing politics. They announced they're not voting in the upcoming election because they don't trust McCain. Left unspoken: "And, obviously, we won't vote for that &*@%* Obama."
I learned a long time ago that it's a waste of time to try to reason with unreasonable people.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous DC said...

Right on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Nell Minow said...

An excellent post, as always. If you fail to assume good intentions on the part of your opponent it diminishes your own credibility.

I am on the board of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a non-partisan watchdog that tracks the portrayal of political candidates in the media. They released a report this week titled "MEDIA BASH BARACK (NOT A TYPO): Study Finds Obama Faring Worse On TV News Than McCain" -- "Since the primaries ended, on-air evaluations of Barack Obama have been 72% negative (vs. 28% positive). That’s worse than John McCain’s coverage, which has been 57% negative (vs. 43% positive) during the same time period.

This is a major turnaround since McCain and Obama emerged as front-runners in the early primaries. From the New Hampshire primary on January 8 until Hillary Clinton dropped out on June 7, Obama’s coverage was 62% positive (v. 38% negative) on the broadcast networks; by contrast, McCain’s coverage during this period was only 34% positive (v. 66% negative).

Obama ran even farther behind McCain on Fox News Channel’s Special Report with 79% negative comments (v. 21% positive), compared to 61% negative comments (v. 39% positive) for McCain since June 8. During the primaries Obama had a slight lead in good press on Fox, with 52% favorable comments (v. 48 % unfavorable), compared to 48% favorable (v. 52% unfavorable) for McCain.

Obama’s bad press has come at a time when he was much more visible than McCain. Since June 8, he has been the subject of 120 stories on the three network evening news shows, 50% more than John McCain’s 80 stories."

The media may slant to the left, but it goes absolutely sideways when it comes to bashing whomever is ahead, especially if they have been accused of favoritism. They loved Obama when he was an outsider and underdog. Now that he isn't, they don't.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Define "raised a Muslim." Does being registered "Muslim" at both the Catholic and public schools and going to the mosque with your stepfather and doing the sorts of things there that Muslims normally do not count, somehow?

As you say, there is nothing inherently wrong with being raised a Muslim. So it is interesting to see how so many of Obama's supporters -- and Obama himself -- have tried to distance themselves from these facts about his life. They sound almost "erroneous", at times.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

When was the moment that you decided that your Christian faith was not, in fact, a hand-me-down religion from your parents (assuming you were raised in a Christian home) and was instead the thing which you embraced as inherently your own, a lens through which you chose to see the world? Up to that point, you (and Obama) had little say in the matter. It is the choices we make as free-thinking teenagers and adults that set our worldviews, not the scribblings or activities of our parents.

Agreed about Obama's non-commital stance toward Islam--something I think he is trying to make up for now. His campaign's distancing is troubling, but understandable. When the vast American populace is so ignorant of the world beyond their borders that they can't tell the difference between a Shiite and a Sikh; when many people I know continually call for turning the Middle East into a giant sheet of glass; and when those same people believe every word of the e-mails I mentioned in this post, I'd say such a stance is pragmatic, if disappointing and, ultimately, counterproductive to Obama's inclusive message.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

When was the moment that you decided . . .

How is this a relevant question? You denied that Obama was "raised a Muslim", despite all the evidence which says that, in fact, he was raised a Muslim. Obama's "decisions" as a teenager or an adult have nothing to do with it -- although, of course, for our purposes, it is very important that he has decided to be "erroneous" or to "lie" about his past.

It is the choices we make as free-thinking teenagers and adults that set our worldviews, not the scribblings or activities of our parents.

I used to think this way, too, back when I was an Anabaptist -- partly because that was how I was raised. (Ha!) But nowadays, I have a lot more sympathy for those who believe that the way we are raised has a profound influence on our worldviews. And I also sympathize with those Muslims who may regard Obama as an apostate because he used to be one of them but now is not. (Is there a Muslim equivalent of Anabaptism? If so, I am not yet aware of it.)

10:44 AM  
Blogger nathan said...

It boggles the mind that Obama’s opponents get away with:

First 1) - Hounding Obama, with such energy and persistence, on the Muslim “question,” even going so far as circulating those pictures of him when he visited Africa (see?? He’s in a turban! See??).

The whisper campaigns and mass emails that spread this either

a) Explicity connected any “Muslim heritage” to clear evidence that the nation would burn with the fire of Al Quaeda’s nukes, should Obama be elected,

or b) said nothing about why being a Muslim was so heinous... It usually included a statement along the lines of SEE AMERICA? Barack HUSSEIN Obama. DO THE RESEARCH AND BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

And then 2) - only to turn the whole thing around with a collective “Hey, what’s wrong with being a Muslim? What are you guys, racist?”

The irony of this is so thick and rich you could swim in it.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on, Nate. It's quite an interesting little rhetorical prestidigitation. Actively inspire fear-mongering, religious intolerance, and racism (or at least hold the cloaks of those who do); then when your arguments don't turn out as you would like, imply it's because of the very cocktail of insecurities, fears, and prejudices you were complicit in creating.

Here's the kicker: All done in the service of the Lard. Praise Jesus and pass the perversion.

By the way, Nate, I did not see the slightest glimmer of antichrist in Obama's left profile this morning, what did you see on the right side?

10:37 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Yes, of course, there is no "rhetorical prestidigitation" on Obama's side. Not with him changing positions on so many issues and getting away with it. Not with him having nothing to campaign on except his racial-cultural heritage and then complaining when people question his handling of the facts about that heritage. Nuh-uh. No tricky here, that's for sure.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

I don't post this looking for a separate but equal response for Obama. My point is merely that flip-flopping has a long and prestigious history, even with McCain:

National Security Policy

1. McCain thought Bush’s warrantless-wiretap program circumvented the law; now he believes the opposite.

2. McCain insisted that everyone, even “terrible killers,” “the worst kind of scum of humanity,” and detainees at Guantanamo Bay, “deserve to have some adjudication of their cases,” even if that means “releasing some of them.” McCain now believes the opposite.

3. He opposed indefinite detention of terrorist suspects. When the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, he called it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.”

4. In February 2008, McCain reversed course on prohibiting waterboarding.

5. McCain was for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay before he was against it.

6. When Barack Obama talked about going after terrorists in Pakistani mountains with predators, McCain criticized him for it. He’s since come to the opposite conclusion.

Foreign Policy

7. McCain was for kicking Russia out of the G8 before he was against it. Now, he’s for it again.

8. McCain supported moving “towards normalization of relations” with Cuba. Now he believes the opposite.

9. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Hamas. Now he believes the opposite.

10. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Syria. Now he believes the opposite.

11. McCain is both for and against a “rogue state rollback” as a focus of his foreign policy vision.

12. McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.

13. McCain was against divestment from South Africa before he was for it.

Military Policy

14. McCain recently claimed that he was the “greatest critic” of Rumsfeld’s failed Iraq policy. In December 2003, McCain praised the same strategy as “a mission accomplished.” In March 2004, he said, “I’m confident we’re on the right course.” In December 2005, he said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”

15. McCain has changed his mind about a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq on multiple occasions, concluding, on multiple occasions, that a Korea-like presence is both a good and a bad idea.

16. McCain was against additional U.S. forces in Afghanistan before he was for it.

17. McCain said before the war in Iraq, “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” Four years later, McCain said he knew all along that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.”

18. McCain has repeatedly said it’s a dangerous mistake to tell the “enemy” when U.S. troops would be out of Iraq. In May, McCain announced that most American troops would be home from Iraq by 2013.

19. McCain was against expanding the GI Bill before he was for it.

20. McCain staunchly opposed Obama’s Iraq withdrawal timetable, and even blasted Mitt Romney for having referenced the word during the GOP primaries. In July, after Iraqi officials endorsed Obama’s policy, McCain said a 16-month calendar sounds like “a pretty good timetable.”

Domestic Policy

21. McCain defended “privatizing” Social Security. Now he says he’s against privatization (though he actually still supports it.)

22. On Social Security, McCain said he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Soon after, asked about a possible increase in the payroll tax, McCain said there’s “nothing that’s off the table.”

23. McCain wanted to change the Republican Party platform to protect abortion rights in cases of rape and incest. Now he doesn’t.

24. McCain supported storing spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Now he believes the opposite.

25. He argued the NRA should not have a role in the Republican Party’s policy making. Now he believes the opposite.

26. In 1998, he championed raising cigarette taxes to fund programs to cut underage smoking, insisting that it would prevent illnesses and provide resources for public health programs. Now, McCain opposes a $0.61-per-pack tax increase, won’t commit to supporting a regulation bill he’s co-sponsoring, and has hired Philip Morris’ former lobbyist as his senior campaign adviser.

27. McCain is both for and against earmarks for Arizona.

28. McCain’s first mortgage plan was premised on the notion that homeowners facing foreclosure shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting “irresponsibly.” His second mortgage plan took largely the opposite position.

29. McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

30. McCain opposed a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., before he supported it.

31. McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.

32. McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.

33. In 2005, McCain endorsed intelligent design creationism, a year later he said the opposite, and a few months after that, he was both for and against creationism at the same time.

34. And on gay adoption, McCain initially said he’d rather let orphans go without families, then his campaign reversed course, and soon after, McCain reversed back.

35. In the Senate, McCain opposed a variety of measures on equal pay for women, and endorsed the Supreme Court’s Ledbetter decision. In July, however, McCain said, “I’m committed to making sure that there’s equal pay for equal work. That … is my record and you can count on it.”

36. McCain was against fully funding the No Child Left Behind Act before he was for it.

37. McCain was for affirmative action before he was against it.

Economic Policy

38. McCain was against Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy before he was for them.

39. John McCain initially argued that economics is not an area of expertise for him, saying, “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues; I still need to be educated,” and “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” He now falsely denies ever having made these remarks and insists that he has a “very strong” understanding of economics.

40. McCain vowed, if elected, to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term. Soon after, he decided he would no longer even try to reach that goal. And soon after that, McCain abandoned his second position and went back to his first.

41. McCain said in 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and falsely argued that he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.

42. McCain thought the estate tax was perfectly fair. Now he believes the opposite.

43. McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain was asked if he is a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.”

44. McCain has changed his entire economic worldview on multiple occasions.

45. McCain believes Americans are both better and worse off economically than they were before Bush took office.

Energy Policy

46. McCain supported the moratorium on coastal drilling ; now he’s against it.

47. McCain recently announced his strong opposition to a windfall-tax on oil company profits. Three weeks earlier, he was perfectly comfortable with the idea.

48. McCain endorsed a cap-and-trade policy with a mandatory emissions cap. In mid-June, McCain announced he wants the caps to voluntary.

49. McCain explained his belief that a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax would provide an immediate economic stimulus. Shortly thereafter, he argued the exact opposite.

50. McCain supported the Lieberman/Warner legislation to combat global warming. Now he doesn’t.

51. McCain was for national auto emissions standards before he was against them.

Immigration Policy

52. McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. In 2007, he announced his opposition to the bill. In 2008, McCain switched back.

53. On immigration policy in general, McCain announced in February 2008 that he would vote against his own bill.

54. In April, McCain promised voters that he would secure the borders “before proceeding to other reform measures.” Two months later, he abandoned his public pledge, pretended that he’d never made the promise in the first place, and vowed that a comprehensive immigration reform policy has always been, and would always be, his “top priority.”

Judicial Policy and the Rule of Law

55. McCain said he would “not impose a litmus test on any nominee.” He used to promise the opposite.

56. McCain’s position was that the telecoms should be forced to explain their role in the administration’s warrantless surveillance program as a condition for retroactive immunity. He used to believe the opposite.

57. McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

58 In June, McCain rejected the idea of a trial for Osama bin Laden, and thought Obama’s reference to Nuremberg was a misread of history. A month later, McCain argued the exact opposite position.

Campaign, Ethics, and Lobbying Reform

59. McCain supported his own lobbying-reform legislation from 1997. Now he doesn’t.

60. In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he opposes his own measure.

61. McCain supported a campaign-finance bill, which bore his name, on strengthening the public-financing system. In June 2007, he abandoned his own legislation.

62. In May 2008, McCain approved a ban on lobbyists working for his campaign. In July 2008, his campaign reversed course and said lobbyists could work for his campaign.

Politics and Associations

63. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist John Hagee. Now he doesn’t. (He also believes his endorsement from Hagee was both a good and bad idea.)

64. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist Rod Parsley. Now he doesn’t.

65. McCain says he considered and did not consider joining John Kerry’s Democratic ticket in 2004.

66. McCain is both for and against attacking Barack Obama over his former pastor at his former church.

67. McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but then decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.

68. In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.

69. McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.

70. McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

71. McCain believed powerful right-wing activist/lobbyist Grover Norquist was “corrupt, a shill for dictators, and (with just a dose of sarcasm) Jack Abramoff’s gay lover.” McCain now considers Norquist a key political ally.

72. McCain was for presidential candidates giving speeches in foreign countries before he was against it.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

My point is merely that flip-flopping has a long and prestigious history, even with McCain . . .

Yes, well, that's because McCain actually has a long and prestigious history. What's impressive about Obama is that he is already building up a similarly long list of flip-flops despite having no significant track record of anything, beyond making speeches, running for office, and fudging on his autobiographical details for the past few years. :)

In at least some of the cases you cite -- and I certainly don't have time to fact-check them all! -- McCain can probably appeal to changing circumstances and/or to genuine changes of opinion. Obama, on the other hand, hasn't been around long enough to have all that many reasons for his sudden changes -- especially the ones that have taken place just since primary season.

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's always amusing for me to hear that there is little to Obama beyond making speeches. Two things about that: 1) Not true. Sure, Obama doesn't have the history of McCain; he's not 100 years old. But, he has time and time again shown that he has superior judgment and intellect. When I heard him unpack the offshore drilling analysis yesterday, free from editing, it was the most cogent, lucid bit of economic analysis I've heard in a long time. Far more intelligent than McCain's Exxon-approved script. 2) Words matter. Read our history. The role of president is not simply to enact policy, it is to lead. Inspiring the public and making them believe in themselves and the promise of change is a gift. A great leader captures the ability to craft the narrative for a society. It is a rare gift, and one we should not overlook. John McCain's rhetoric makes me believe in changing the channel.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

The ability to lead? McCain took an unpopular position on the surge, stuck with it, and we are now seeing the benefits of his once-unpopular position. Obama, meanwhile, took a very popular position against the surge, predicted it would make things worse, and is now caught in this awkward position of trying to accept the success of the surge while denying he ever made the wrong prediction in the first place and/or continuing to assert that he would have opposed the surge even if he had known how successful it would be. He can't admit he was wrong. He doesn't want to admit he was wrong. Because in the absence of actually getting anything done, Obama's whole campaign is based on the notion that he always gets things right. (Or, as you put it, that he has "judgment and intellect".)

As for Obama's ability to "inspire the public" by getting them to believe in vague and meaningless words like "change" -- this is a good thing? Words only matter when there are actions to back them up. Obama has shown no sign that he is capable of the actions that have backed up some of the more famous words in American history. Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan and others all spoke their famous words in times of war, when they drew clear lines in the sand against the nation's enemies. But all Obama can do is spout a bunch of nonsense about "people coming together", when he isn't saying that he wants to surrender to al-Qaeda over here so that he can go fight them over there, or whatever.

Of course, I'm a Canadian, and we elect our leaders based on their functionality, not their charisma. The few times we have allowed ourselves to get carried away by a leader's "charm", we have come to regret it (see: Trudeaumania; or, for that matter, at the other end of the political spectrum, Stockwell Day).

12:12 PM  
Blogger nathan said...

Did you guys see this latest bit of damning news? Obama might be TOO FIT to be president.

Total elitist.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...


Here is a great foward for your readers to recieve.

5:19 PM  
Blogger nathan said...

In this latest ad that is attempting to gain traction on the campaign concocted caricature of Obama as arrogant/presumptuous and of his supporters as worshipful acolytes, the ad creators actually use footage of him poking fun at that very representation of his supporters. Except here they use it as the real deal.

This is what it's come to.

5:24 PM  
Blogger nathan said...

Did Chris just seriously provide a link to the Limbaugh Letter?

5:26 PM  
Anonymous POD said...

As much as links to John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann are freely discussed and lauded on this blog - there should be no dissent in the posting of a Limbaugh link - in jest or otherwise.

Rush Limbaugh provides the same type of "entertainment" as the listed persons above - just from a different viewpoint. A great deal of my family members listen to him as much as possible, and even during my recent road trips, I found myself curious about what he has been talking about lately, but alas, I had to settle for an episode of the Michael Medved Show - but he had a wonderful interview with one of my more libertarian (not liberal, mind you) heroes - John Stossel.

9:16 PM  
Blogger nathan said...

I hope you're not including me in your general impression of this blog, POD. Not sure I've ever provided a link to any of the people you've just mentioned in the midst of a heated debate about serious issues.

For the record, I think Keith Olbermann is a bloviating idiot. (I credit Limbaugh for giving birth to him.)

And I've said it before: Jon Stewart skewers the media (and mostly the likes of Olbermann) more than he does any particular party. This is why he is essential viewing.

I hear these attempts at parallelism a lot, as if I go around citing Olbermann and Michael Moore. Just today, a conservative friend of mine asked if I would be so outraged on behalf of McCain if equally absurd ads were made of him. Fortunately I remembered a discussion via email with another friend of mine, this one very liberal.

My friend sent me this video.

I responded with:

"That video is full of just the sort of cheap shots that Obama has said he'd like to rise above. He doesn't control Robert Greenwald, but still, for his supporters.... not very Purple Party, eh?

The absolute worst part was when we decide to hang McCain on his own words when he dares to admit to being a mere mortal and to not being the Divine Expert in a particular area of knowledge (economics); just the sort of prudence, and the he's-smart-enough-to-know-what-he-doesn't-know humility that we could use, particularly after the last 8 years of "we don't need no experts".

Of course, even within this video, we see where he has already learned how naive it was of him that he could be so bracingly honest with the American people, and now he has to obfuscate and talk around his earlier comment when it's flashed up on a screen. Sad, really, that it's we the people that create these kinds of gotcha games. We are the ones molding our leaders into bland, poll-driven, cardboard facsimiles of each other.

McCain has a long, complex history of being a rogue element within the Republican party, and his career shouldn't be reduced to this. I have high hopes that Obama can win without resorting to the same tired shit that we've been suffering through for the last dozen election cycles. It will make his presidency - and his legacy - that much stronger. We'll see, I guess.

On the other hand! The media itself is fair game for crucifixion-by-montage, since that's the essence of what they do!"

note: My friend had been going on about this "Purple Party" business, where people put aside the cheap shots and discuss issues like adults. So I had to call him out on the hypocrisy of him forwarding the video.

I think I've got some more around here, if I look.

Oh yes, this one via Facebook...

So another friend of mine, BIG Obama fan, she posts this story from Huffington post (HuffPo is way too consistently liberal for my tastes - It feels like a big echo chamber)

About which we had this exchange:

Me: "Cheap and easy and not very purple party.

Put a camera on somebody, and they will flub a line here and there. It says nothing about what they know or believe or intend to do."

Ashli: "it's not really a cheap and easy shot nate- I truly believe it was not a flub. It doesn't send a very strong message to the world that a nominee for president doesn't know the geography of the middle east. or maybe you think that's ok."

Nate: A president who did not know the basic geography of the middle east would indeed be dire. But you are assuming what he actually KNOWS, as opposed to an "oops" moment when the cameras are rolling. We all have our oops moments.

There are so many more substantive things to criticize McCain about, which is why I will be voting for Obama. The problem with these kinds of attacks, is that they are just as bad as the silly nonsense coming from FOX, they completely undermine Obama's message of an elevated type of politics, and, frankly, render meaningless any kind of "purple party" talk you yourself have advocated, (and still advocate, as far as I know.)

Walk the walk, Ashli.
This is our moment. This is our time. Down here. *takes breath off of inhaler*"

That last part was a reference to Obama's primary victory speech that somehow segued into The Goonies. Yeah, I don't know either.

So... I know I could post examples like this all day long, and it wouldn't stop you, or especially Chris, from thinking of me as a sort of Michael Moore talking-point parrot, displaying, um, "arrogance bred from ignorance", if I have that right. But I offer them up here for what they are worth. I seriously, seriously doubt that Chris could provide me something equivalent from the other side, even if it's just him relaying a verbal conversation he's had. Something about him makes me doubt that it's in him.

So yes, I mock the submission of the Limbaugh Letter, which I have read, as some sort of argument which will knock me on my ass.

This post done tuckered me out.

11:19 PM  
Blogger nathan said...

And I have thoroughly enjoyed John Stossel's work on ABC. In my opinion, that's what all conservative-to-libertarian journalism would look like if it were intellectually honest, and not FOX/Limbaugh cheap.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous POD said...

I was just looking at some of the "military policy" talking points listed above, and noticed that most of the flip-flopping occured pre-2006, prior to the surge of troops in Iraq. I can understand McCain's change in stance due to Rumsfeld's failed Iraq policy (not invading with enough troops), but the talking points fail to mention how correct he was on the surge policy, especially from the beginning, in early 2007, when ALL conventional wisdom was pointing to starting a drawdown in Iraq. McCain at least had the forethought to adjust to a failing policy and stick to his guns. I have read that Obama has changed his viewpoints on gun control, abortion, offshore drilling (his latest), and the aforementioned surge.

I guess that my point is that there is really nothing wrong about changing your opinion and being flexible. IMHO, Sen. McCain has revealed himself to be more adept to making decisions and policy changes that have the best interests of the country in general, in spite of popular opinion. If for example, we would have followed the beliefs of Obama, Iraq would probably be in a much bigger mess - considering that the "surge" policy is done now and Iraq has become a more stable country - it has become much easier for Obama to co-opt this policy and accomodate it for his political "timetable" for withdrawal (which in reality probably won't happen).

But regardless of what the opinions are of each political candidate, I am extremely proud, as an American, that our elected officials learned from the mistakes of what happened between 2003-2006 in Iraq. As Iraq continues to stabilize and become (hopefully) becomes a pro-American, stabilizing ally in the Middle East, we shall have a great deal to thank Sen. McCain for. His "flip-flop" on his Iraqi policy has made the world safer for us all.

I finally have made my decision: barring any unusual turn of events, McCain has my vote.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Well, apparently that "nearly 10 points" lead is down to a tie. Which probably explains Obama's latest flip-flop, on the question of drilling for oil.

A lot can happen in a week. And there are many weeks yet to come. And it is interesting to note that, in my lifetime at least, the Democrats always seem to be ahead of the Republicans at this point during the summer, yet with the exception of Carter (who won one term post-Watergate) and Clinton (who benefitted the first time from a three-way race, and had the advantage of running for re-election the second time) they have always lost on election day itself.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Dead serious Nathan. It is a link to a daily email, not the Limaugh letter. I also prefer that voters recieve correct information regarding Obama.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

FWIW, Stanley Kurtz:

Barack Obama's neighborhood newspaper, the Hyde Park Herald, has a longstanding tradition of opening its pages to elected officials -- from Chicago aldermen to state legislators to U.S. senators. Obama himself, as a state senator, wrote more than 40 columns for the Herald, under the title "Springfield Report," between 1996 and 2004. Read in isolation, Obama's columns from the state capital tell us little. Placed in the context of political and policy battles then raging in Illinois, however, the young legislator's dispatches powerfully illuminate his political beliefs. Even more revealing are hundreds of articles chronicling Obama's early political and legislative activities in the pages not only of the Hyde Park Herald, but also of another South Side fixture, the Chicago Defender.

Obama moved to Chicago in order to place himself in what he understood to be the de facto "capital" of black America. For well over 100 years, the Chicago Defender has been the voice of that capital, and therefore a paper of national significance for African Americans. Early on in his political career, Obama complained of being slighted by major media, like the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Yet extensive and continuous coverage in both the Chicago Defender and the Hyde Park Herald presents a remarkable resource for understanding who Obama is. Reportage in these two papers is particularly significant because Obama's early political career -- the time between his first campaign for the Illinois State Senate in 1995 and his race for U.S. Senate in 2004 -- can fairly be called the "lost years," the period Obama seems least eager to talk about, in contrast to his formative years in Hawaii, California, and New York or his days as a community organizer, both of which are recounted in his memoir, Dreams from My Father. The pages of the Hyde Park Herald and the Chicago Defender thus offer entrée into Obama's heretofore hidden world.

What they portray is a Barack Obama sharply at variance with the image of the post-racial, post-ideological, bipartisan, culture-war-shunning politician familiar from current media coverage and purveyed by the Obama campaign. As details of Obama's early political career emerge into the light, his associations with such radical figures as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Reverend James Meeks, Bill Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn look less like peculiar instances of personal misjudgment and more like intentional political partnerships. At his core, in other words, the politician chronicled here is profoundly race-conscious, exceedingly liberal, free-spending even in the face of looming state budget deficits, and partisan. Elected president, this man would presumably shift the country sharply to the left on all the key issues of the day -- culture-war issues included. It's no wonder Obama has passed over his Springfield years in relative silence.

The whole thing is a fascinating read. And disturbing, of course.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

And now this:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows the race for the White House is tied with Barack Obama and John McCain each attracting 44% of the vote. However, when "leaners" are included, it’s McCain 47% and Obama 46%.

This is the first time McCain has enjoyed even a statistically insignificant advantage of any sort since Obama clinched the Democratic nomination on June 3 (see recent daily results). Tracking Polls are released at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time each day.

A week ago today, Obama had a three-percentage point lead and the candidates were even among unaffiliated voters. Today, McCain leads 52% to 37% among unaffiliateds.

McCain is currently viewed favorably by 55% of the nation’s voters, Obama by 51%. That is the lowest rating for Obama since he wrapped up the nomination. Obama is viewed favorably by 83% of Democrats, 22% of Republicans, and 47% of unaffiliated voters. For McCain, the numbers are 87% favorable among Republicans, 26% among Democrats, and 61% among unaffiliated voters.

Kind of embarrassing, isn't it? When you consider that the Democrats were supposed to be a shoo-in, I mean. I wonder how Hillary would be doing right about now.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

"I keep running into people who don’t seem to have turned on a radio or TV, or picked up a newspaper or magazine in the last year."

Brandon. There is a good reason why no one turns on a TV or radio, or picked up a newspaper or magazine. It is because these media outlets have as much reputability as a foward about Barack's lapel pin. The latest Rasmussen Reports found that 55% believe media bias is more of a problem than big campaign contributions.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

“To insinuate that a presidential contender would rather American soldiers die, would rather his own family be imperiled, and, if you believe the conservative machine, would rather invite further attacks on U.S. soil just so he can get a cushy job, is shameful, disgraceful, ignominious, despicable and unworthy of anyone seeking high office. “

This is hypocrisy on full display. How many people, including you, proclaimed “Bush lied soldiers died”, or my favorite “Bush went to war for oil.”

“dawning of a leader for a new era”

Are you kidding me? This messiah complex is getting out of hand. The next thing you will be doing is asking Obama for forgiveness?

2:00 PM  
Blogger nathan said...

All of this from the guy who invoked the Limbaugh daily newsletter as a good source.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

. . . the nearly 72-year-old McCain recently admitted that he had not mastered the Internet, relies on his wife and aides to surf the net for him and has “never felt the particular need to e-mail.”

Hmmm, mocking a guy for his war wounds, eh?

"He can't use a computer because his arms were repeatedly broken."

10:40 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha (breath) hahahahahahahahahahaha

10:51 PM  
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