Campaign Watch II

Yes, another political post. What can I say?

Here’s Michael Kinsley providing still more evidence that the Sarah Palin seen on television and discussed by the media bears little resemblance to the Sarah Palin that has been governing Alaska for the last two years:

Sarah Palin thinks she is a better American than you because she comes from a small town, and a superior human being because she isn’t a journalist and has never lived in Washington and likes to watch her kids play hockey. Although Palin praised John McCain in her acceptance speech as a man who puts the good of his country ahead of partisan politics, McCain pretty much proved the opposite with his selection of a running mate whose main asset is her ability to reignite the culture wars. So maybe Governor Palin does represent everything that is good and fine about America, as she herself maintains. But spare us, please, any talk about how she is a tough fiscal conservative.

That’s the opening. Go read the rest.

Meanwhile, as John McCain and Sarah Palin tell one lie after another, the press has been all up in arms about the fact that Obama used the expression “putting lipstick on a pig.” This, of course, is a common cliche used to express disdain for attempts to make an unpalatable measure palatable via some cosmetic improvement. McCain himself has used the expression. Here is the full statement:

“John McCain says he’s about change, too — except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics,” Mr. Obama told his supporters here. “That’s just calling the same thing something different.”

With a laugh, he added: “You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change; it’s still going to stink after eight years.”

Pretty standard fare. But the McCain folks noticed that this coud be spun as an attack on Sarah Palin, and the media types have been wringing their hands over the subtle philosophical issues involved ever since.

Paul Begala ably sums up the ongoing national embarrassment of the news media:

In the face of demonstrable, provable, incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, McCain and Palin continue to assert that Gov. Palin opposed the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” They do so in their speeches and ads, and their supporters say so on television until their pants are on fire. McCain and Palin also claim the Alaska governor opposes earmarks — despite the fact that she’s gotten her state so much pork she’s at risk for trichinosis.

And later:

But facts ought not be debatable. The media have an obligation to point out when a politician is lying about a matter of fact, but the right-wing attack machine has so cowed some of them you can almost hear them moo. Steve Schmidt, McCain’s top dog, is a brilliant and audacious strategist. His candidate has had the most favorable press coverage of any politician of the last century — fawning, adoring, sycophantic press coverage. And yet he is brutalizing the press, waterboarding them into pretending that whether Gov. Palin supported the “Bridge to Nowhere,” or hired an Abramoff-connected lobbyist to secure massive earmarks are somehow debatable.

Well said.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign seems determined to repeat all of the usual Democratic errors, specifically, thinking that calm, rational discussion of issues will actually work this time. Did you see Obama on Ketih Olbermann’s show the other night? He looked comatose. Olbermann served him one softball after another, but Obama steadfastly refused to take a swing. Here’s an example of how it went

OLBERMANN: I must ask about the next step beyond tough talk and then I’ll let you go with our great thanks. I don’t know if you saw what the Republicans called the 9/11 tribute video during their convention, which was played on all the cable networks. It was graphic and it used video that had long since been put on the shelf, out of bounds by news organizations, to the widespread approval of our viewers, and mental health organizations, I might add. Should a video like that with such graphic images of that horrible day be shown in the context of a political campaign by anybody, by any campaign, by any candidate?

OBAMA: Well, it–it’s not something we would have done, because I think that 9/11 is beyond partisan politics. You know, that’s why I’m going to be appearing with John McCain on–at Ground Zero on Thursday, because that was something that should be pulling us together. It’s not something that should be, I think, trotted out in political moments.

But obviously they made a different judgment. They are free to do so. I believe that the American people are interested in who’s going to make sure that the next administration is keeping us safe in the future and not looking backwards.

Ugh. The correct answer, of course, was, “No, of course it was inappropriate. But utterly tasteless appeals to emotion are the only hope the Republicans have seeing as how they have made a hash of everything they have touched for the last eight years…” Or something like that.

Along these lines, Robert Kuttner has a good post about another Obama failure to sieze on a teachable moment.

The following snippet from Monday night’s Hardball is typical of much of the chat show silliness surrounding McCain and Palin’s incessant lying. In the 2000 election Matthews was perfectly happy to twist anything Al Gore said into a window into the dark and corrupt nature of the man’s soul. But now he has jokey conversations with Republican operatives, and tries desperately to change the subject.

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, she supported the idea of some kind of link.

But what happened was, when they were talking about it back then, it was some sort of modest link to attach the island…

(CROSSTALK)

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: A ferry or something, maybe?

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: No, no, it was a bridge, but then what happened is, it goes to Washington and the pork barrelers get their arms around it.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: And, suddenly–she was not for a…

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: She was not for a $400 million bridge, which Barack Obama, by the way, voted for. And she fought Ted Stevens and Don Young, both of whom are Republicans from her own state.

MATTHEWS: So, she supported one of those civil–one of those bridges they build across Europe when we were chasing the Nazis, one thing at a time?

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Exactly, a little pontoon.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. I’m sure that what she…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You’re kidding me, of course.

HARRIS: If you ask Ted Stevens and Don Young what they think of Sarah Palin, they will not have kind words to say, because, as they were sending pork to Alaska, she was fighting it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: On the particular point, did she support the bridge in the beginning?

HARRIS: She supported some kind of link, but not a $400 million…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Why is this an important debate? Because the people out there–I’m trying to keep track. I have sort of sworn to myself over the weekend that I’m going to try to keep this campaign focused on real issues that really matter, like how are we going to compete in the world economically?

Charming. I have no doubt Matthews and his fellow pundits consider that being tough on the Republicans.

How vile and ludicrous has McCain become? Have a look:

The McCain campaign has released a new ad, “Education,” that suggests Barack Obama favors teaching sex education to kindergartners. A McCain aide tells CBS News the ad will air on Fox News and in select markets in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Education Week says Obama ‘hasn’t made a significant mark on education,’” an announcer says as the spot opens. “That he’s ‘elusive’ on accountability. A ‘staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly.’”

The announcer continues: “Obama’s one accomplishment? Legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.”

Families with brains will roll their eyes at this. They will note that even if by some fluke Obama actually did privately believe that comprehensive sex education for five year olds was a good idea, the sheer politics of it would keep him from supporting it in public. They would suspect that the ad is not giving them the full story:

Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs told CBS News the legislation Obama supported provided information to children on what to watch for when with an adult they don’t know, such as inappropriate advances or touching.

“It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls – a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. “Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.”

Anyone optimistic that families in those swing states will find the ad shameful and perverse? Or do you think a lot of them will be grateful for having been informed of what a perv Obama is?

Finally, Andrew Sullivan serves up an eloquent reminder of why I continue to read his blog even though he has been wrong about so much over the last eight years (supporting Bush over Gore, the Iraq War and his demonization of early war critics as fifth columnists, his utterly irrational hatred for the Clintons, condemning P.Z. Myers in the big “Crackergate” scandal):

So far, he has let us all down. My guess is he will continue to do so. And that decision, for my part, ends whatever respect I once had for him. On core moral issues, where this man knew what the right thing was, and had to pick between good and evil, he chose evil. When he knew that George W. Bush’s war in Iraq was a fiasco and catastrophe, and before Donald Rumsfeld quit, McCain endorsed George W. Bush against his fellow Vietnam vet, John Kerry in 2004. By that decision, McCain lost any credibility that he can ever put country first. He put party first and his own career first ahead of what he knew was best for the country.

And when the Senate and House voted overwhelmingly to condemn and end the torture regime of Bush and Cheney in 2006, McCain again had a clear choice between good and evil, and chose evil.

He capitulated and enshrined torture as the policy of the United States, by allowing the CIA to use techniques as bad as and worse than the torture inflicted on him in Vietnam. He gave the war criminals in the White House retroactive immunity against the prosecution they so richly deserve. The enormity of this moral betrayal, this betrayal of his country’s honor, has yet to sink in. But for my part, it now makes much more sense. He is not the man I thought he was.

And when he had the chance to engage in a real and substantive debate against the most talented politician of the next generation in a fall campaign where vital issues are at stake, what did McCain do? He began his general campaign with a series of grotesque, trivial and absurd MTV-style attacks on Obama’s virtues and implied disgusting things about his opponent’s patriotism.

Guess you can add McCain’s character as another thing Sullivan has been wrong about. For most of us it’s been obvious for years that McCain was just another political opportunist. As for the post, I felt bad cutting off the excerpt there. Go read the whole thing.

And all of this happens as Slate’s Election Scorecard, to which I have recently become addicted, reports that the nationwide bounce for McCain is now showing up in the state-by-state numbers.

Comments

  1. #1 Ricky_G
    September 10, 2008

    Prove to the world how an amino acid can survive in an oxygen environment.

    I am sure you and your readers know that Oxygen is a corrosive and tears amino acids (which are the basic building blocks of proteins and life) apart. So, whether the theory that life began on land where the oxygen content was more than now or at the bottom of the ocean where Oxygen is 1/3 of the base (rough numbers for simplicity), not even one amino acid could not survive. Let alone enough amino acids to combine into one protein. http://rickyg64.blogspot.com/

  2. #2 mandrellian
    September 10, 2008

    Useful contribution there, Ricky_G. Nothing spices up a political debate like a completely unrelated, half-baked creationist anti-theory (which, by the way, shows your utter lack of comprehension of the very thing you argue against – par for the course for you godbots though!) and a link to another religious blog/wasteofbandwidth that really isn’t anything more than yet another biblical copy+paste festival.

    Meanwhile, BACK ON TOPIC …

    Once again, I fear that the Dem’s campaign is going to be as spineless as the GOP’s is going to be negative & fearmongering, all the way up to voting day. If Obama can’t even show some cojones when talking to Keith Freaking Olbermann, every reasonable, moderate voter has cause to worry. When the f–k are the Dems going to grow a pair and start fighting back against the Repubs’ bullshit and the alleged “liberal” media’s wilful ignorance of anything that might make the Repubs uncomfortable?

  3. #3 Graham Storrs
    September 10, 2008

    Great post, Jason.

    You know, I live in Australia – about as far away from the US as it is possible to be – and it is patently obvious, even to me, that McCain is a weasel and Palin is a Margaret Thatcher clone. I’ve been blogging against both of them for a while now.

    You may think this is none of my business but, as America sinks into recession, dragging the rest of us down with it, I rather think it is. Like most thinking people around the world, I do not want to see another right-wing, religious loony in the White House. What is wrong with America that it keeps electing these people?

    And what has happened to the press over there? Politicians lying through their teeth ought to be news. It ought to be good copy. Yet, as you pointed out, McCain and Palin seem to be getting a free ride from the Fourth Estate. Without a press willing to tackle corruption and dishonesty democracy comes down to whoever has the better showmen. And from where I’m sitting, that looks like McCain and Palin.

  4. #4 wazza
    September 11, 2008

    Ricky: Oxygen in the atmosphere and ocean is actually a product of photosynthesis, that is, life. Early life developed in an oxygen-free environment.

    If McCain wins the election, there’s no hope left. I mean it. We’ll have to get Canada to invade and introduce real democracy.

  5. #5 Malky
    September 11, 2008

    I am Encglish and am comletely gobsmacked at how the election campaign is going at the moment. I also think that the Democrats need to be a lot more forceful inpointing out the contradictions in McCains current campaign ads. The American Media as perceived fro ythe UK is completely incomprehensible!

  6. #6 386sx
    September 11, 2008

    (rough numbers for simplicity)

    Thank you. And thanks for not getting all complicated with numbers and stuff like that.

    Dr. Lee Strobel: “The optimism of the 1950’s is gone. The mood at the 1999 International Conference on Origin of Life was described as grim-full of frustration, pessimism and desperation.?

    That’s pretty gloomy, man.

    Even Dr. Francis Crick, an avowed atheist, admits that the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle in some sense: “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.”

    Evolutionists: when will you start being honest with yourselves?

  7. #7 Valhar2000
    September 11, 2008

    Evolutionists: when will you start being honest with yourselves?

    The day you stop lying.

  8. #8 Valhar2000
    September 11, 2008

    So, McCain is going to win the election. Well…

    I wonder how long it will take for WW3 to start.

  9. #9 386sx
    September 11, 2008

    The day you stop lying.

    Valhar2000, you have to admit that if the origin of life appears at the moment to be in some sense almost a miracle to an avowed atheist, then that is some pretty damning evidence against evolution!

  10. #10 386sx
    September 11, 2008

    It’s the damn 21st century, and there’s still a big bunch of fundy creationist clowns running around hating evolution because they don’t like coming from no stinkin monkeys. How freakin stupid is that? We were supposed to have flying cars and stuff in the 21st century for crying out loud!

  11. #11 386sx
    September 11, 2008

    So, whether the theory that life began on land where the oxygen content was more than now or at the bottom of the ocean where Oxygen is 1/3 of the base (rough numbers for simplicity), not even one amino acid could not survive. Let alone enough amino acids to combine into one protein.

    That’s a pretty good point. If you can’t have an amino acid on land, and you can’t have an amino acid in the ocean, then there just isn’t any other place where you could have an amino acid! And if you can’t have one amino acid, you sure as heck can’t have two! One begins to wonder why there are any amino acids at all!

  12. #12 Khalil
    September 11, 2008

    Its only a good point if you’re a complete retard. As a previous poster pointed out, oxygen is the result of photosynthesis (basically life, I know how you creatards get confused with big words)so there would not have been high concentrations of oxygen. How about you read a book some time, maybe one that’s not about old sky fairies with beards.

  13. #13 JimV
    September 11, 2008

    In my daydreams, I ponder the sort of constitution I would establish if I could found a colony on the Moon or Mars. I mainly think of little things, like a rule that no elected official could run for office while in office (not a limit on the number of terms, but on consecutive terms).

    Unfortunately, there is no place we could go to and start over (although maybe Antarctica will be feasible in a century or so), and if there was, we still would not escape all the consequences of what seems to be happening in the U.S., as a previous commenter noted.

    More and more the answer to the Fermi Paradox (where are all the alien civilizations) is becoming clear to me.

    (I know, I should look on the bright side, but it is difficult this morning.)

  14. #14 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 11, 2008

    It’s amazing how many waterboys Jason has collected.

    So what’s the consensus here for a system of government: “Scientific Atheism”? ;-)
    (I think that system was already tried and it failed miserably.)

  15. #15 J. J. Ramsey
    September 11, 2008

    So what’s the consensus here for a system of government: “Scientific Atheism”?

    Should we call this an instance of Godwinski’s Law? Or is there a better name for it?

    To get back on topic, I like Jonathan Zasloff’s take: The pig is Bush, and McCain is the lipstick.

  16. #16 Kevin
    September 11, 2008

    naw…

    McCain is the pig and Palin is the lipstick…

  17. #17 Kevin
    September 11, 2008

    Jason,

    did you see the obit for Oded Schramm? seems like a young mathematician got hisself killed which is really too bad because he seemed from the obit to be quite the new idea guy.

  18. #18 michael fugate
    September 11, 2008

    So what’s the consensus for explaining the diversity of life: “intelligent design?”
    (I think that system was already tried and failed miserably.)

  19. #19 Ricky G
    September 11, 2008

    Again, more arrogant people that think they know anything. All of us regurgitate things that have been taught whether truth or fiction. Hitler is the one who mastered the art of feeding mistruths until they became thought of as facts. Now the taught subject in society is evolution. It is taught as fact from theories and guesses. Like the original geologic time scale. So, the genius that states the ocean is a process of photosynthesis. That may be one of many theories, but is it a fact.

    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/past/earths_primordial_ocean.html&edu=high

    An ocean began to form on Earth as soon as the temperature fell from very hot, to about room temperature, a temperature where liquid water is stable. According to the Goldilocks theory, Earth is at just the right distance from the sun for the temperature of the surface to be appropriate for the formation of liquid water. The presence of running water influenced the rest of the gases in the atmosphere, which began to dissolve into the forming ocean. By this time Earth was busy generating its secondary atmosphere. These atmospheric gases came out of a volcano. All volcanoes are different but in general those gases would include H2O, CO2, SO2, H2S, HCl, N2, NO2.
    The process of dissolving was dictated by a chemical balance called “Henry’s Law”. Henry’s Law states that
    ē The amount of dissolved molecules of a particular species that will form in water depends upon the pressure (the weight) of that species of gas in the atmosphere (how much of it is in the atmosphere) times the solubility properties of that species (how readily it will dissolve).
    Gases such as CO2, SO2, and HCl form acids when dissolved in water. These acids would be HCO3-, HSO3-, and H3O+. Such acids would immediately be neutralized via reaction with the surface minerals of the Earth, but the addition of so much acid to both the land and sea changed the pH of the ocean and surface from a reducing environment (hydrogen-based) to an oxidizing environment (oxygen-based).
    Scientists think that the Earth’s secondary atmosphere may have come to be dominated by N2 because it alone does not readily

    So letís get back to the question at hand; how did amino acid come about and combine into a protein in an oxygen laden earth? And letís narrow it to only left handed amino acids, for they contain the life.

  20. #20 J. J. Ramsey
    September 11, 2008

    Ricky G, did it ever occur to you to consult TalkOrigins.org to at least see if your complaint had been answered?

    http://talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB035_1.html

  21. #21 Graham Storrs
    September 11, 2008

    This is one very weird site, Jason. It must be really frustrating that you can’t talk about anything without all these religious nuts jumping in to whine on about how some magic god or other pulled the Universe out of its arse. Incredibly ignorant people they are too!

    As for the prescient comment by Vahar2000 re WW3, check today’s news and tremble! Palin wants us all to go fight the Russians asap!

  22. #22 Scott
    September 11, 2008

    In the words of the incomparable Astro, “ruh-roh!” .

  23. #23 Pieter B
    September 12, 2008

    Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. “Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.”

    That should have come from Obama’s lips, not a “campaign spokesman.” They’re in a street fight and they insist on treating it like it’s a tennis match. Jason, I hope you’re wrong, but I sure as hell can’t make much of an argument against your position.

  24. #24 386sx
    September 12, 2008

    So let?s get back to the question at hand; how did amino acid come about and combine into a protein in an oxygen laden earth? And let?s narrow it to only left handed amino acids, for they contain the life.

    Ricky G, that web page you were citing says, “Oxygen came into the atmosphere as a waste product from the photosynthetic activity of early life forms after that oxygen had first combined with residual surface iron to produce iron ore.”

    And on another page, “The appearance of organisms capable of performing photosynthesis was very significant — if it weren’t for the photosynthetic activity of these early bacteria, Earth’s atmosphere would still be without oxygen and the appearance of oxygen-dependent animals, including humans, would never have occurred!”

    You’re citing sources that contradict what you’re saying. Unless I’m missing something!

  25. #25 Kevin
    September 12, 2008

    okay I’ll try to read what 386 wrote

    “Earth’s atmosphere would still be without oxygen”

    and find a problem with the source

    “Oxygen came into the atmosphere as a waste product from the photosynthetic activity ”

    and wonder why he thinks that O2 combined in iron oxide was actually in the atmosphere instead of in the ocean…

    can’t do it…

    an interesting note here is that I think I read that the early earth had a RED ocean and a GREEN sky….

  26. #26 Kevin
    September 12, 2008

    oh er..he doesn’t think that…

    IT WAS THAT OTHER GUY….

  27. #27 pough
    September 12, 2008

    you have to admit that if the origin of life appears at the moment to be in some sense almost a miracle to an avowed atheist, then that is some pretty damning evidence against evolution!

    Is this a serious post? Most things seem miraculous until you figure them out. Also, evolution hardly needs a non-miraculous start. While abiogenesis might eventually be included in evolution when it’s better understood, it doesn’t seem to be there now and changes in populations of imperfectly replicating things works just fine without it. It seems perfectly obvious to me. If the first ones were poofed, they still managed to evolve from that point onwards. If they were non-poofed, they did the same.

    As far as I’m concerned, you can treasure your poof if it makes you happy, just don’t think you’ve won out over evolution. And don’t come crying to us when your poof gets taken away from you, like it’s done in so many instances throughout the history of science.

  28. #28 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 12, 2008

    Graham –

    Yeah, I get all types around here. Certainly keeps things lively. Glad you liked the post.

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