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September 04, 2008

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Thanks for that cite, toml.

So it's as I suspected? In other words, there is no "mocking" of Wassila, much less using the term "Wasilly" -- just a straightforward, factually based comparison of his legitimate claim to executive experience heading a national campaign organization and the Republican claim that she has "six years of executive experience" as compared to his none.

Nell:

Dang! You made me have to look hard. I actually heard it on Anderson Cooper 360, which I don't listen to usually (cable was turned back on for the Olympics and we havent' turned it off yet). But, here it is in all its glory!!

Please note Obama's comparison between his campaign and the City of Wasilla, of Iditarod fame (which he rather humorously calls (Wuhsilly), and his campaign rather than the State of Alaska, which has a slightly higher (i.e. 10x+) number of employees and slightly higher (factor of 70+) annual budget not to mention complexity of budget, etc.

-Le non-poseur

oops. off on my math. I think the budget is only 14 times higher than the Obama campaign. Not enough sleep last night.

his slaps at her "small red neck town" experience deserved,IMHO, a response of like kind

Okay, I'm getting pretty tired of this. Point to the quote where he says anything like this or get ready not to be given the benefit of the doubt on your arguing in good faith.

Here's the video

http://www.cnn.com

Go to about 7:50 mark and he says "Wasilly," not "Wassilla."

I'm sure its an honest mistake.

Please note Obama's comparison between his campaign and the City of Wasilla, of Iditarod fame (which he rather humorously calls (Wuhsilly), and his campaign rather than the State of Alaska, which has a slightly higher (i.e. 10x+) number of employees and slightly higher (factor of 70+) annual budget not to mention complexity of budget, etc.

The point isn't the Obama running his campaign is exactly the equivalent of Palin's experience, but that Palin's experience running a small town is just not that impressive, really, as far as 'executive experience' goes. If the GOP is going to trumpet that experience as relevant, then they're going to have to stomach a look at the numbers. You can't claim the small town executive experience is important but run back to the governor numbers when that is called into question.
Or, you can. But why bother, it's too transparent.

I'm sure its an honest mistake.

Probably was. But the gaffe happens in a slap at her experience in the small town of Wasilla which raises the question. And it just sounds stupid (Chicagy?) And he didn't literally say anything derogatory, only by implication.

I don't personally think the Wasilla experience is anything all that important, but, as I've now said many times, I'm not all that into the experience argument anyway.

And, Nell, I wasn't speaking literally but using quotes as an informal, sarcastic paraphrase. I should have been clearer that it was such.

And I'M NOT TRYING TO ARGUE THE EXPERIENCE ISSUE. I'm only saying the rejoinder was appropriate. That's all.

Carleton: I don't necessarily disagree. But it's Obama that's running to the Wasilla numbers. That's too transparent as well. I think it's rather silly to trump up experience in one's own campaign as the experience for the job, even though I respect his win over Clinton.

Jon Stewart last night had video of Karl Rove arguing last month that Tim Kaine's executive experience (two terms as mayor of Richmond, lieutenant governor and now governor of Virginia) was so laughably thin that he could not be considered a serious selection for vice president, then arguing last week that Sarah Palin's executive experience was unquestionably of vice presidential caliber.

Also a defense of Dick Morris that I can't repeat here, but it contained the words "lying" and "sack."

With the video monitors going, there were three of him but really only one, a clear appeal to the Nicean nature of much of the American voter populace.

I'm not sure how we're supposed to be reacting to you at this point, BC? Are your comments about the columns all a joke, or a piece of performance art, or what? Are you withdrawing the objection? Surely we're not supposed to take that Onion-level parody of an intellectual Republican critique seriously as something you actually believe?

And I'M NOT TRYING TO ARGUE THE EXPERIENCE ISSUE. I'm only saying the rejoinder was appropriate. That's all.

Hm, I think a rejoinder is appropriate, just that this particular one is uneccesarily insulting and arrogant. IMO.

"I'd like to think that it was as simple as that."

Of course, things never are; I'm writing a blog comment, not a thesis. I agree it's not remotely as simple as that.

"And there's lots of past history, no doubt, that's hard to erase even though it does not exemplify the typical republican today."

I'd be fascinated to know just what most delegates attending the Republican convention today are doing to improve the lives of American minorities, including, but not limited to, African-Americans, and the economically disadvantaged, besides running businesses that give employment to people, giving to their churches, and voting Republican. What are they doing about the inner city, and rural and suburban, poor? What are they doing that's the equivalent of spending years as a low-paid community organizer for the sake of idealistic goals? How do they compare in this to the average attendee at the Democratic convention? Is it all just "perception"?

"But the DNC panders to that particular demographic."

The poor and minorities, and those who need help, who don't have wealth and power on their side? How dreadful.

"That vote is locked up already."

Or do you mean African-Americans? They're "pandered" to by Democrats? How so? How does it compare to the groups Republicans "pander" to? Which groups would you identify as being in that category?

"I'll let you know what I think."

Please do; I'll look forward to it; I think you'll find it an easy read, but let us know.

Are your comments about the columns all a joke . . .

Pretty much, yet no. I thought Palin's comment was funny and was just responding to Gary's comment re Bush. In looking back, I did think it was all the more humorous with the "three in one" look of the thing. And "Nicean nature" just had a nice alliteration to it. That part was a joke.

But what were the organizers thinking? I wouldn't have opened him up to any ridicule after the previous speech. I have to admit that it does affect me somewhat just as Kerry's movies affected me and Clinton's "eye on the prize" since early youth. It says something that Obama approved that podium. But I'm not here to make a big issue out of it (and hence my lame attempt at humour).

gwangung: I'll have to go back and listen. I thought she just said "actually has some responsibility." That's obviously a bit overreaching, but it's not in a debate. It's a red meat speech. More insulting than I would have said, certainly.

Turbulence and Hogan, I'm glad that you seem to be genuinely interested in the matter, so I'll try to do my best to further clarify my misgivings (and yeah, I read the whole interview, so I was kind of anticipating your responses) and suppress my anger.

Firstly, I stand by my claim that Obama is lying in that he is unable to back up his claims and probably knows this or possibly doesn't really care:

If you asked him point blank to name these 80 countries he's speaking of I'm certain he would be at a loss. Now one might consider that an unfair gotcha tactic. But if you asked his campaign office to name those countries within a week and provide uncontroversial proof that there are Al Qaeda cells operating in each of them, I am am equally certain that they would be at a loss. This has to do with the fact that this seems to be just a nice sounding round number being bandied about and also with the fact that the very nature of the organization called Al Qaeda has been the subject of much discussion since it was first mentioned in the Western world (note, that I am certainly not denying its existence).

This brings us to the second point: what is Al Quaeda, is it a network or a franchise or what? Burke gives us three definitions in the interview:

Is he talking about bin Laden, [Ayman] al-Zawahiri, [and] a few senior militants who were with them in Afghanistan?

Is he talking about all those people who went to Afghanistan and may have gone through camps connected to bin Laden in a certain period?

Or is he talking about anybody in the world who feels strongly that it is their religious duty to violently resist what they see as a Western bid to subordinate and humiliate Islam?

I think it is very important to differentiate between those three definitions and I think it is at the very least careless, but more likely a conscious twisting of the truth when Obama mixes all of these together for domestic consumption. A "network operating" does not necessarily imply a top-down organization, true, but it does entail a certain amount of cooperation among the different parts, else they wouldn't be networked.

One could grant that the second definition would describe such a network to the extent that the individuals who have been in the training camps have at least actually interfaced with the core group. But even in that case it is not always clear what exactly the connection between the training camp session and actual or planned terrorist attacks is. If you look at the individual cases, there were many young people who went there and never hurt a fly later on. Calling all of them Al Qaeda sleeper cells is highly misleading and counter productive, it has to be judged in each individual case.

The third definition is today the most important, as many groups who have had no contact with the core Al Qaeda group have found it convenient to retroactively put that very popular label on their front door, especially after claiming responsibility for terrorist acts and Al Qaeda is happy to let them do that. Neither in the case of the London, nor the Madrid bombings could any significant link between the perpetrators and Al Qaeda be established. Calling these acts the operations of a terrorist network would be misleading. The only thing uniting these people is a certain belief system and certain tactics, yet terrorist network implies something much stronger. Calling it a franchise seems a little more apt, if not in the traditional business sense of the word. But anybody can blow himself up on a bus tomorrow and as long as he's made sure that he leaves a few bits of easily obtainable evidence pointing towards Al Qaeda he would be considered part of that franchise.

This leads me to my last point, and since this already getting a bit long, I'll try to make it quick: how are terms and phrases like "Al Qaeda", "war on terror", "terrorist network" used by politicians and how are they perceived by the public? What makes me so angry about Obama's undifferentiated usage is that it signals to me a continuation of Bush policies - minus Iraq.

The "war on terror" is already being used to curtail domestic freedoms and to justify the presence of US army and special forces personnel abroad. And most citizens won't bat an eyelid if they see houses being turned into rubble in some far away country on TV, as long as the commentator doesn't fail to add that US forces were disrupting a "terrorist network". In the UK many people are fine with detaining citizens without charge for a month as long as they are labelled a "sleeper cell". The rhetorical framework that has made these attitudes possible relies on proclaiming a perpetual terrorist threat, that is perceived as both unified and vague. Words are very important in playing this game and I'm disappointed in Obama because he seems to continue the rhetorical strategy of the previous administration. It might well be that I'm overly sensitive in these matters after 8 years of Bush/Cheney and let's hope that I'll be proven wrong.

I'd be fascinated to know just what most delegates attending the Republican convention today are doing to improve the lives of American minorities

One of the token minorities paraded out before a list-less audience told them that by some date (I don't recall when but it was within a few years) "people of color will be an emerging majority" and "one in three Americans will be Hispanic". I'm not sure of her point -- there was NO reaction from the crowd -- since she seemed to think the right-wing antics of the GOP would play well with these constituancies.

Incidentally, on that pool about dates by which Palin will resign from the ticket, I'll take, unless some significant new development occurs in the Trooper investigation, or some new scandal is unearthed, "won't happen."

I just saw http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/04/cbsnews_investigates/main4415886.shtml>This, not that it means anything.

How do they compare in this to the average attendee at the Democratic convention? Is it all just "perception"

All valid points and good questions. One of the things that gets lost in the shuffle is that conservatism posits that we fellow citizens, rather than gov't, should help our fellow man. Thus, you aren't going to have as much discussion of how the gov't can help, especially in a convention. I have no idea how the average convention attender helps their fellow man, but the studies I hear on the news (no cite for now) seem to indicate conservatives give more of their own money than liberals to charity. Don't know how that affects inner cities in particular, though.

Like you, I'd be fascinated to know too. To be clear, I'm not defending the RNC's dedication to ending poverty. But I think that there is more credit due to the average republican than most dems are willing to give.

But if you asked his campaign office to name those countries within a week and provide uncontroversial proof that there are Al Qaeda cells operating in each of them

Since he is a smart and capable person, he could get the data that the CIA used (that you've been told about three times!). That would be 60 right there. It probably wouldn't be difficult to add 20 more, based on the criteria that the CIA used.

Since you want to use a different criteria than an offical one (unless you think there's a more official criteria than the CIA), I suppose you should go back in time, supply the Obama campaign with the "offical criteria" (signed and stamped by novacant), so they can rework their speech to not have a "lie".

Otherwise, get a grip and admit it was not a lie. Mmm'kay?

All valid points and good questions. One of the things that gets lost in the shuffle is that conservatism posits that we fellow citizens, rather than gov't, should help our fellow man.

Wonder how that sets with the community activist line....

I have no idea how the average convention attender helps their fellow man, but the studies I hear on the news (no cite for now) seem to indicate conservatives give more of their own money than liberals to charity. Don't know how that affects inner cities in particular, though.

Giving USA and Philanthropy USA occasionally touches on this and I think that conservatives give more towards churches and liberals give more for social service. But as you say, how that affects inner cities isn't clear, since many churches do social service work in the inner cities....

Firstly, I stand by my claim that Obama is lying in that he is unable to back up his claims...

You realize that he doesn't read OBWi, right? So his failure to respond to your question probably shouldn't be read into too far.

If you asked him point blank to name these 80 countries he's speaking of I'm certain he would be at a loss.

Oh, I didn't realize we got to use 'certainty' as evidence.
Again, are you certain that the CIA couldn't name 60+ countries in 2002? You have yet to address this point, despite claims of wanting a serious discussion & despite how serious a blow this is to your case.

I think it is very important to differentiate between those three definitions and I think it is at the very least careless, but more likely a conscious twisting of the truth when Obama mixes all of these together for domestic consumption.

Or, he could try giving a speech instead- expecting a masters thesis tangent on this issue is disingenuous. Any more than he should take a half-hour to discuss geology when discussing the outer continental shelf drilling issue- what consititues the "outer" shelf? What about the geologists who think that a division between "outer" and "inner" shelves isn't scientifically useful? Why, just saying "outer continental shelf", that's basically a lie!
Im just certain of it!

Jes: No, the rest is your trying to make out that all other political speeches are equally just lies. Eh.

I responded to you. You keep repeating the first thing you said this morning. OK. Or you can respond to my response. It’s not really worth your time – I know what you’ll say. You know what I’ll say. We’re like an old married couple. We can complete each other’s thoughts…

I’m sorry if that made you throw up in your mouth a little. OK – not really. ;) Eh.


Nell: From your link:

Perhaps there were moments where it scrolled slightly past her exact point in the speech.

I don’t know about you, but… If I was giving my first national speech (and an audience almost equaling Obama’s) (although on 4 fewer networks) and “it scrolled slightly past” exactly where I was trying to read – I would need a change of underwear. All my crap that I thought was all in one bag would have gone flying all over.

You know what? All these detractions would have a hell of a lot more impact if you all gave her credit for what she did last night. From there you might get to legitimate criticism, and from there maybe even pull this thing out.

IMO, only, YMMV – you’re all (mostly) covering your ears and singing “La La La - I don’t want to hear you…”

Enough for me today.

One of the things that gets lost in the shuffle is that conservatism posits that we fellow citizens, rather than gov't, should help our fellow man. Thus, you aren't going to have as much discussion of how the gov't can help, especially in a convention.

Then why bother having one? Why try to get jobs in government at all?

I don’t know about you, but… If I was giving my first national speech (and an audience almost equaling Obama’s) (although on 4 fewer networks) and “it scrolled slightly past” exactly where I was trying to read – I would need a change of underwear. All my crap that I thought was all in one bag would have gone flying all over.

Yes, but you have been neither a mayor nor a governor, especially of super-neat places like Wasilla and Alaska. And it's not like they don't rehearse these beforehand.

"One of the things that gets lost in the shuffle is that conservatism posits that we fellow citizens, rather than gov't, should help our fellow man."

Indeed. So, I just got a $1200 emergency room bill for a single visit. How are my conservative fellow citizens going to help me, rather than have the mean old government make sure I get health insurance, and if I don't get a Social Security disability claim approved, how are they going to help me? Tell me to pull myself together, quit having problems, go out and work, and quit whining? (The max I'm apt to get is on the order of $500/month, btw: enough to live in vast luxury.)

How about all the people currently receiving disability claims, or trying to? All lazy frauds who should rely on private charity?

"But I think that there is more credit due to the average republican than most dems are willing to give."

I would never contest that many Republicans give to charity, both to organizations and individuals; indeed, a fair number have made donations to my blog in the past. That's great. Is that enough to help all the Americans who need and deserve help? Is that what people who are unable to help themselves on their own without outside help should rely on? Begging? Feeling the shame and embarrassment of asking for help?

"I just saw This, not that it means anything."

This is the sort of thing that strikes me as being, if the Democrats did it, something that OCSteve would immediately be explaining how dreadful it was of them and Obama to have left an opening for attack for, and when Republicans attacked about it, explain that "body blows" were being struck.

I could be wrong, of course, and if I am, I apologize for taking Steve's name in vain.

But it strikes me as a meaningless bit of trivia: what difference does it make if they were real soldiers or not? Who would know if they didn't read the article? How does it change anything? At most it gives a bit of an eyeroll opportunity, but it, as CharleyCarp says, means nothing.

he could get the data that the CIA used (that you've been told about three times!). That would be 60 right there.

And what the CIA says is always true? Forgive me if my trust in this specific institution has been somewhat diminished over the last 8 years - I still remember them rubberstamping the WMD hoax and thereby the Iraq war.

As for the "offical criteria", well, that was part of my larger point, yes. Are we now at a stage at which we mindlessly accept the official definitions we are fed without inquiring if they are sensible or productive?

I remember a time when 16 words in a Bush speech were subjected to a lot of scrutiny, and rightly so because they turned out to be a lie. Is it now inappropriate for citizens to ask politicians to back up their claims? Are we supposed to accept the same smokescreen Bush put in front of our eyes for the last 8 years, just because it is upheld by a Democrat?

I responded to you. You keep repeating the first thing you said this morning.

Well, yeah: until you answer it. But hey. You're not going to.

but… If I was giving my first national speech (and an audience almost equaling Obama’s) (although on 4 fewer networks) and “it scrolled slightly past” exactly where I was trying to read – I would need a change of underwear.

Her first job was as a sports journalist for KTUU-TV. So she already knew how to read from a teleprompter on live TV. Which was all she had to do.

I'm not seeing why you're so impressed by this. Television presenters do this all the time. Was that what particularly impressed you about Reagan's presidency - his ability to read from a teleprompter?

You know, there is a very interesting factcheck opportunity, which is that of McCain's time as a POW. I would be very interested if bc or OCSteve (what is it with you guys and the two letter handle thingies, anyway? ;^)) went thru and gave an actual accounting of what sort of treatment McCain received and compare it to the comments at the convention, looking at the contemporaneous accounts by other POWs, not retellings that succumb to the advantages of memory. My understanding is that the Vietnamese realized that the POWs were a valuable bargaining chip and endeavored to keep them alive.

And what the CIA says is always true? Forgive me if my trust in this specific institution has been somewhat diminished over the last 8 years...

So far, that's the only hard number I've seen. It's a few years out of date, but 60+ jives pretty well with 80.
You claimed that Obama was lying, and that no one could give you a list if you asked. I think the CIA's number might not be correct (and it's a nebulous thing to begin with), but I bet that they had 60+ specific countries in mind when they came up with that number.

Im not vouching for the CIA's list. Im pointing out that experts came up with a similar number, and so far all you have to justify your accusation of lying is 1)a hunch on your part and 2)distractions about the nature and organization of AQ. Not one expert saying that AQ is in considerably fewer countries than Obama said.

And, of course, if anyone gave you a list you'd just start questioning various inclusions, as outlined here. There is no end to your rabbit hole. You wanted experts (proclaiming There is no expert on the issue who would ever make such a claim), people quoted experts. You dismissed the experts. And so on.

Whether true or not, this teleprompter stuff will only add to the legend of Sarah High Plains Drifter.

Next thing you know, they'll be saying she killed a moose with her bare hands.

---

Notice not a word was said about "conservation" in Palin's energy plan, if you want to call it that.

Dick Cheyney has won.

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Ara: "I think Turbulence is spot on. Her polarizing nature is going to energize the Democratic base as well."

And if it doesn't, shame on us.

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I'm going to watch it, but McCain's speech seems awfully anti-climatic after Palin's coming-out party last night -- plus he's up against the NFL season opener: Washinton Redskins (the Beltway's team) at defending world champion New York Giants.

I'd love to be at a bar watching the game on one TV and McCain on the other with Mike Murphy off mic -- heck, he can even bring Peggy Noonan, might be fun seeing her tie one on.

Taking bets: How soon into the speech before the first "My friends" -- I'll take the third sentence.

Come to think of it, my friends, that would be a dangerous drinking game.

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Hand it to the Republicans for not taking any chances with red-white-and-blue symbolism: Pretty hard to ignore that big screen behind the podium and rotating pictures of the Liberty Bell, sunsets and a flapping American flag.

Sunsets?

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Can't wait until next week's SNL premiere. I'm betting that Tina Fey will make a guest appearance like she did in the primaries when she gave her pro-Hillary rant on Weekend Update. Darrell Hammond seems like he'd make a great McCain.

This is also an potentially interesting exercise in fact checking that illustrates how simply grounding it is 'facts' misses a bigger point.

This has been nagging at me for a while. Karl Rove this morning told yet another variation on the story of the McCains' adoption of their daughter Bridget. In his version, like the others I've heard, Cindy didn't tell John in advance that she was bringing this child back with her from abroad. She just did it, a fact which usually gets a hardy-har-har from friendly audiences.

In Rove's version today, Cindy specifically told someone else not to tell John in advance. The point of Rove's story was that John McCain needs to reveal more of himself publicly so that voters can see the kind of character he has.

Am I the only one who finds that story to be a poor reflection on Cindy, John, and their marriage?

Bear with me for a moment, but let's say that the first story is true, and the second is an elaboration. (Is it possible for just one parent to adopt? Don't both have to sign off?) At this point, we have to ask, why elaborate the story?

I'd suggest that it is to show what the dynamics of the McCain-Palin administration. McCain would be the stern father, while Palin will be the mother who is able to sneak in small acts of kindness from time to time. 'your dad, he loves you so much, he just isn't able to show it'

So the factcheck opportunity is to obtain the adoption papers and see when John McCain knew. Yet, if a democrat did that, there would be squeals and screams. So this demand on fact checking can be (not saying that people who are talking about it here are engaged in bad faith argumentation) a way of creating privileged narratives that, if they are investigated, can be held up as a lack of respect for privacy. Note that I use an example from McCain to avoid being charged with sexism, but we see that same dynamic play out with Palin's private life and charges of sexism (does anyone else giggle uncontrollably when remember Guiliani screaming 'they would never ask that about a woman!')

Sorry, that was from TPM and is found here

I remember a time when 16 words in a Bush speech were subjected to a lot of scrutiny, and rightly so because they turned out to be a lie.

Are you equating "According to the best criteria we have (however bad it may be) this is what we know" equate to "a known forgery has been used to 'prove' a lie"?

Maybe you want to rethink that analogy?

@OCSteve:

I love ya, guy, but you're the one who's got your fingers in your ears, and over your eyes.

Palin and her handlers missed a big opportunity, speaking to a national audience that doesn't know who the hell she is, to go for those up-for-grabs voters that may determine the election.

But, no; they went for firing up the right-wingers instead, larding the speech with snide little in-group digs that only Republican political geeks would even understand, much less appreciate -- the 'Greek columns' (!), the slam at community organizing.

The question in the watching-on-TV voters' minds was "could she step in as president"? What they saw was just another highly partisan attacker. So they still don't know the answer to the question.

But the attack-dog persona just feeds into the very real problems that people are going to hear more about -- Palin's vindictive use of the power of her office against opponents. And it's just going to reinforce McCain's impulsive, short-term-thinking decision to announce her before much if any vetting was done.

It's all just more of the same from the party that brought us George W. Bush: partisan thinking over governing for all, divisiveness vs. bringing the country together to face real problems, not bothering with important details.

It's fired up the wingnut base? Fine. It's fired up our base, too. We're f***ing sick of the politics of manufactured resentment.

And Obama-Biden are picking up those in-betweeners.

People are hurting out there; they're losing their houses and they're afraid they'll lose their health insurance -- if they have any.

And Mr. I'll-check-with-my-staff-on-how-many-houses-I-have has no plans to do anything but funnel more of the national income to the tiny slice he belongs to, people raking in $5 million a year or more. His health plan is ... nothing. Go to the emergency room.

Oh, and on the "soft bigotry of low expectations with a Teleprompter" front: Her previous professional experience in that line of work aside, there's this:

Palin worked until about midnight last night practicing her speech and resumed again this morning at 5 a.m., according to McCain advisors who have been with the Alaska governor day and night...

The governor was in "prompter practice" from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. today, aides said. Last night at about 10:30 p.m., aides added, they did a full run-through at a practice podium in an effort to create the feeling of performing at the hour she will appear tonight.

Pardon me if I'm not persuaded by imagining how you or I would handle the situation. This woman's a political performer.

Here's a bit of hypocrasy from the Reslugs who've been speaking so far: John McCain is a great man for reaching "across the aisle", but those on the other side of the aisle are worthless, rotten scum, if not traitors (how nice to be called a traitor again!).

The whole lot of them are, well, scum.

Jes: Well, yeah: until you answer it. But hey. You're not going to.

Huh?

OK – for the record.


Gary: This is the sort of thing that strikes me as being, if the Democrats did it, something that OCSteve would immediately be explaining how dreadful it was of them and Obama to have left an opening for attack for, and when Republicans attacked about it, explain that "body blows" were being struck.

Huh?

I could be wrong, of course, and if I am, I apologize for taking Steve's name in vain.

Thanks?


LJ: I would be very interested if bc or OCSteve (what is it with you guys and the two letter handle thingies, anyway? ;^)) went thru and gave an actual accounting of what sort of treatment McCain received and compare it to the comments at the convention, looking at the contemporaneous accounts by other POWs, not retellings that succumb to the advantages of memory.

Huh?

OK – Three – “huh?”s and I am officially out.

OK – Three – “huh?”s and I am officially out.

Doing better than the Seattle Mariners....

how are terms and phrases like "Al Qaeda", "war on terror", "terrorist network" used by politicians and how are they perceived by the public? What makes me so angry about Obama's undifferentiated usage is that it signals to me a continuation of Bush policies - minus Iraq.

This strikes me as the key point--to what extent any invocation of "al Qaeda" involves buying into the Bush/Cheney framing of our conflict with some elements of the Islamic world.

I don't agree that describing "al Qaeda" as a global network is as much of a capitulation on that as you do; I think that frame involves a lot more than "global" and "network." It involves, for one thing, a usually unspoken assumption that goes back to the Carter/Reagan era: that any terrorist group must be sponsored by a state; therefore if a terrorist group is attacking us or anyone we like, it must be sponsored by whatever state we're currently designating Public Enemy Number One (the Soviet Union if you're Claire Sterling; Iraq if you're Dick Cheney before 2004; Iran if you're Dick Cheney in or after 2004; if you're McCain, anyone from Iran to Russia to whoever honks him off next week).

If you want to jump from that frame all the way to the one that I suspect you and I would prefer, then what I take to be Obama's incrementalism is going to be a disappointment. I think that if we want to get to the US foreign policy I want (or even can live with without intermittent screaming and heavy drinking), incrementalism is all we can get these days; there's no anti-imperialist mass movement here, now or in the foreseeable future. If he moves us away from knocking down states as the way to deal with stateless people who attack us, I consider that progress, and talking about al Qaeda as a global non-state network moves us in that direction.

May I make a pre-emptive response to a catch-phrase McCain is sure to trot out tonight?

McCAIN: " ... serve a cause greater than self-interest."

Me: Does paying taxes count? Is clamoring for tax cuts NOT self-interest?

Thank you, my friends. God bless America.

--TP

But, no; they went for firing up the right-wingers instead, larding the speech with snide little in-group digs that only Republican political geeks would even understand, much less appreciate -- the 'Greek columns' (!), the slam at community organizing.

In fairness, the wingers didn't know her either, it's not like she was Huckabee. In order to get into the base's heart, she had to come out frothing at the mouth.
If she had done a soft-pedal bio with a couple of light jabs, they might have had their first impression be that she's a lightweight.

I do agree that it was a missed chance though- the base they could've picked up later, and her views should certainly appeal to the Christianist groups. But the muddled middle, you don't get that many chances to reach out to them.

So, according to Gov. Palin's speechwriters Barak voted "Here" a few times. Wonder how Big John's doing on that same score. Hmmmm...let's check.

From: The Moderate Voice:

"It’s a given that presidential candidates who are running for president are going to miss a vote or three, but the situation with John McCain is ridiculous.

The Republican wannabe has not voted since April 8, missing a total of 76 votes. This includes several key votes on important legislation, among them Social Security, which he views as “a total disgrace,” and expanding veterans’ GI bill benefits, which he vociferously opposed and then took credit for after that bill passed."

At least Obama showed up for work.

But, no; they went for firing up the right-wingers instead, larding the speech with snide little in-group digs that only Republican political geeks would even understand, much less appreciate -- the 'Greek columns' (!), the slam at community organizing.

In fairness, the wingers didn't know her either, it's not like she was Huckabee. In order to get into the base's heart, she had to come out frothing at the mouth.
If she had done a soft-pedal bio with a couple of light jabs, they might have had their first impression be that she's a lightweight.

I do agree that it was a missed chance though- the base they could've picked up later, and her views should certainly appeal to the Christianist groups. But the muddled middle, you don't get that many chances to reach out to them.

All these detractions would have a hell of a lot more impact if you all gave her credit for what she did last night.

Look OC, what Nell said.

Among other things, last night Palin threw down the gauntlet. This year is going to be a blood match. Didn't have to be that way, but McCain apparently decided he couldn't make it without the social cons, so that's what it's going to be.

The reason it's a blood match every time the social cons get into the mix is because they can't get three words out of their mouths without congratulating themselves on what real Americans they are, how much they love their families, how hard-working they are, and how much they just love their god.

I don't know who the F they think they are, but they have no special claim to make on any of those things. None.

I have no, absolutely no, issue with religious people, family-oriented people, patriotic people, or people who are by habit, outlook, or temperament conservative. None.

I have, however, no time for people who think god, family, or this country are their special and unique little heritage. Those things belong to all of us. Or, more correctly, they belong to none of us. We, each and every one of us, belong to them.

I have no hatred for Palin. I wish her well in life. But she has made herself my enemy, and I take that perfectly seriously.

Whatever I can do to keep her the hell away from national office, I will do it. I think she's a sanctimonious creep, and I want no part of her in any public life that touches me or mine. I'm no great shakes, but I do have some resources to bring to bear toward that end, and toward that end they will be brought.

Mark my words.

That's what she accomplished last night.

Thanks -

"Huh?"

What's your question, Steve?

About the 80 countries- I decided to do a bit of research, and it turns out (using a moderately broad definitition of “operating”)- that Obama is factually correct.

I did a google search on about 100 countries, putting in “Al Qaeda United Kingdom”, etc. I used only hits on reputable websites (no unknown websites, way-out-there websites, or conspiracy mongers). I did not count any evidence derived from torture, or based only on assertions by the Bush administration. I didn not consider Al Qaeda to be operating in a country they had only threatened from afar (e.g. Denmark). I did not consider Al Quaeda to be operating in a country just because a fugitive had fled there from somewhere else.

I considered Al Qaeda to be “operating” in a country if any of the following applied:
(1) Al Qaeda had perpetrated an attack there.
(2) There was credible evidence that Al Qaeda had “boots on the ground” in that country- e.g. members of a cell had been arrested on credible evidence.
(3) An Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group was operating there.
(4) The government of that country had cooperative contact with Al Qaeda.
(5) Al Qaeda had procured war materials from that country.
(6) Al Qaeda had financial operations (e.g. money laundering or diamond trading) in the country.

I came up with the following list- more than 80!

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Columbia, Congo, Cyprus, Denmark, Dijbouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopea, Ethiopea, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyryzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Phillipines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Somaliland, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Uganda, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuala, Western Sahara, Yemen

Sorry, the two letter observation was just designed for levity.

The question about McCain being tortured is something that many of the speakers noted, and I could see that me trying to make a determination of whether particular comments were exaggerations or worse, lies, would be difficult to present as being objective, so I was wondering if you guys would look at it. But for a Obama supporter to question, or indeed actively enquire into some of the aspects of McCain's imprisonment (remember the cross in the dirt anecdote?) would provide lots and lots of heat with no corresponding light.

Again, sorry to have been unclear and no slam was intended against you or bc. Apologies if it seemed that way.

OCSteve: OK – for the record.

And, for the record: you were unable to find any lies like the ones Palin told in Biden's speech. Yet I don't see you acknowledging that...

Anne E: Thanks for that: it's an interesting list. Though bear in mind that "arrests on credible evidence" in the UK at least, have included groups kicking MacGyverisms around on Internet discussion boards.

Given that al-Qaeda is not state-sponsored and is not centralized, Obama's statement was indicative of a certain (and wrong) mindset on al-Qaeda - which is worrying on a different level, supposing he were to be President*, but it constitutes a serious misunderstanding rather than a lie.

*Of course, McCain will be worse...

liberal japonicus: Bear with me for a moment, but let's say that the first story is true, and the second is an elaboration. (Is it possible for just one parent to adopt? Don't both have to sign off?) At this point, we have to ask, why elaborate the story?

I googled on "Bridget McCain" and found an interview in "DadMag" from April 2006, I think (here) in which McCain presents Cindy bringing Bridget and another child back from Mother Theresa's orphanage for medical treatment in the US, as wholly her own idea which he didn't know about in advance: and that it was Cindy's idea initially to adopt Bridget, which she sprang on John McCain as "Here's your new little daughter" - but the legal adoption, according to this version of events, happened in the US with the consent of both Cindy and John.

I have no idea if this is an accurate version of events. Most countries in which Western parents go shopping for babies/young children to adopt have now tightened up their procedures - you must have clearance to adopt from both your own country and the child's birth country - but I don't know what the procedure was in Bangladesh in 1991, and this may have been further complicated by Cindy McCain merely initially offering to take the children to the US for medical treatment, not to be adopted - however rapidly she picked up the idea that she would adopt one and a friend would adopt the other.

Given that al-Qaeda is not state-sponsored and is not centralized, Obama's statement was indicative of a certain (and wrong) mindset on al-Qaeda...

I didnt think the statement went into enough detail to determine something like that- I read it as "here is the scope of this problem". The GOP has used terrorism as a smokescreen for bad acts, but it's still a serious issue to be dealt with- centralized or not, state-sponsored or not.

I said "indicative", Carleton. I don't think I can say more or less than that until/unless we see what Obama does if he gets to become President.

My hopes that President Obama would deal with al-Qaeda in a more realistic and effective way than Bush ever did or McCain ever would, are grounded in Obama being more intelligent and more able than both of them put together, not in any sure knowledge that he won't.

I hope, for example, that Obama will follow through on what he said here about the military commissions legislation to approve torture of suspects: certainly given that he both voted and spoke out against it, while McCain voted for it (and von, who I believe once opposed torture, would doubtless find a way to defend McCain's vote for torture) gives me some hope.

But not only am I doubtful that (whether or not he wins the election) Obama will get past the inevitable vote-rigging to the Presidency, I am also doubtful (have been ever since Obama caved on FISA) whether he will follow through on the most urgent need to clean house after the Bush administration fouled it.

Regarding the special needs funding, as noted by hilzoy, the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy had its own budget in 2008 and 2009. If you count that, it appears that there was actually an increase in spending for special needs:

2007. $8,265,300
2008. $8,234,000 (ACYA) + $3,156,000 = $11,900,000
2009. $6,082,100 (ACYA) + $3,156,000 = $9,238,100

The Alaska Challenge Youth Academy is described in the state budget like this:

"This instructional program is operated in Anchorage with student enrollees from across the state. Students work on challenging academic programs in a 'boot camp' environment. Completing high school and building career goals and skills are the goals." (Source: http://gov.state.ak.us/omb/08_OMB/budget/EED/comp2837.pdf)

However, the program referenced in the budget as the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy appears to actually be a program run by the state National Guard at Fort Richardson in Anchorage for "at risk" teens from 16 to 19. See the web site here:

http://www.ngycp.org/index.php

As far as I’ve been able to determine, this program seems to have nothing to do with special education. Special needs children (e.g., autism, Down syndrome) do not appear to be eligible to participate in the program.

It probably does not belong in the special education budget.

And it does appear to be getting favored treatment, while other programs for special needs have been cut or remained flat.

Regarding Obama's legislative history in Illinois, here's a good Washington Post article first published in January.

Judge Him by His Laws

Here's my personal affront at the GOPs snide remarks about community organizing. It especially hits hard as I am a Chicagoan about to lose my home.

So community service is something to snark at

I said "indicative", Carleton.

Sorry, point taken.

Hilzoy: Is an update of the update in order?

The Republican Party has been high-jacked by the religious right as McCain’s selection of Palin proves. I thought McCain might bring some sanity to back to the party but it turns out experience does count and he is following the George Bush/Carl Rove play book of appealing to the "Gun tottin, God fearin" mob with his choice of Sarah Palin. The least you can say for George Bush is that he picked Cheney, whatever you may think of him, he is no light weight. Another trait about McCain that makes me very uncomfortable is his quick shoot from the hip decision making process. His selection of Palin seems to be a perfect example of this. This seems very similar to George W. Bush's decision making methodology which landed us in $3 Trillion and counting war without end. And I'm not a democrat. I voted for Bush the first go around. But McCain just doesn't seem to have the necessary personality traits to be an effective executive. He lost my potential vote for good with his selection of Palin.

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