Holy Smear Campaign Batman, John McCain is The Penguin


Who would have guessed that John McCain is The Penguin? The above video exposes both McCain’s secret and shows how he can be expected to debate tonight. (Hat tip to Marc Ambinder).

I’ll be back after the debates to review the proceedings, and we’ll see how much John McCain sounds like The Penguin. Rather than live blogging, I prefer to take notes during the debate and then get links for fact checking to post a review of the debates.

Update: My review and fact checking on the debate is now posted here.

Sarah Palin And Special Needs Children

Sarah Palin has received support from women who identify with Palin but fail to consider whether Palin supports policies which support their needs. Terry Gross discussed this question on Fresh Air today with Anchorage Daily News columnist Michael Care. On a closely related topic, I received this submission from a special needs mom who questions Palin’s claims to be an advocate for parents of special needs children:


I am an expert at raising a child with special needs. My son is an adult, 26 years of age.

Governor Palin, you have said repeatedly that you will be an advocate for parents of special needs children. It is now time for you to tell us what you mean by that statement. It is not enough that you chose to have a baby with special needs. There are thousands of us who made the same choice – and others like me who did not know until our children were born (or later even) that they had special needs. There are also hundreds of thousands of people with developmental disabilities on decades-long waiting lists for services across the country – and others who are completely unable to access services for their children because they don’t fit some arbitrary criteria.

Specifically, I want to know the following:

1. Do you support increased funding to and the expansion of Medicaid Waiver programs to ensure that people with special needs can live and work in the community?

2. Do you support making certain that all services are portable, across the states and counties – that people don’t have to get at the “end of the line” when they move to another state?

3. Will you increase funding to special education, and improve special education programs so that less parents have to “opt out” of sending their special needs children to public school because “homeschooling” is better than “no schooling?”

4. If John McCain were President, and he were to propose drastic cuts in Medicaid, what kind of advocacy would you do for special needs parents to prevent funding cuts that would put us back to the 1960’s?

5. What did you do in Alaska to improve the lives of people with special needs? Did you increase services? Did you increase funding to special education? Did you end waiting lists? Have you served on nonprofit boards that serve children with special needs? How often did the local papers in Alaska write about your advocacy for the families of Alaska who have special needs children? Do all families in Alaska have access to local, community-based programs and treatment regardless of their income because of your advocacy efforts?

6. Are you in favor of spending more time, money and attention on the horrific status of mental health treatment and services across the nation?

7. Would you be in favor of ensuring that services are provided to people with disabilities who need them, in spite of their IQ’s not being in the right “range”? Specifically, how would you address this problem?

8. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, what special programs might you institute to support the high influx new parents of special needs children who might not have otherwise given birth to those children because they felt they could not manage for whatever reason?

Governor Palin, the media has had the opportunity to ask you these questions but have not done so. You have seized that opportunity with photo ops and heartstrings to simply say that you will be an advocate for us, without being questioned. You complain that the media is against you and yet you have not taken the time to explain to the hundreds of thousands of we special needs parents who need a champion for our cause so much, exactly what your record is on special needs advocacy and what we can expect in the future if you were Vice President. It’s time now to answer the question: What is your plan?

A special needs mom in Aurora, CO

Obama Staffers Leaving Michigan For Formerly Red States

I have to go into Grand Haven later this afternoon and I wonder if I should say good bye to the people at the Obama office there. So far its been a great convenience, allowing me to get Obama gear to distribute for suggested contributions which are below what the campaign charges by mail, plus no wait. Now I wonder if they will be keeping them around. At the beginning of October McCain gave up on Michigan, and now trails by double digits in recent polls.

Since then the battleground has changed, with Obama having strong leads in the blue states and challenging in several states which have not voted Democratic in recent years. Marc Ambinder reports that some of the Michigan field staff is being transferred to previously red states such as Indiana and North Carolina. Recent polls show Obama with a slight lead in North Carolina, which has not gone Democratic since Jimmy Carter won the state.

I figure Indiana will never settle the election. If Obama wins there it will mean he has also won in most of the battle ground states and the electoral votes would not be decisive. Still, I would love to have both of our neighbors to the south join us in the 21st century, and allow Obama to sweep the Big Ten states. (Would that mean he could go to the Rose Bowl?) Elsewhere in the Big Ten region, WisPolitics believes that the Republicans are also backing away from advertising buys in Wisconsin due to Obama moving out to a double digit lead there.

Keith Olbermann Calls on McCain to Suspend His Campaign

Keith Olbermann had a Special Comment on the negative tone of the McCain/Palin campaign last night. Video is above and the transcript is under the fold. Olbermann charges that McCain is “tacitly inciting lunatics to violence” and calls on McCain to suspend his campaign “until you, or somebody else, gets some control over it and it ceases to be a clear and present danger to the peace of this nation.”


Reality’s Well-Known Liberal Bias and the Blogosphere

Waxy recently wrote a script which labels blogs on Memeorandum red or blue based upon the linking behavior of the blogs. Blogs which are shown in blue link more to liberal blogs and, while there are some exceptions, tend to be more liberal. I also suspect that there might be greater polarization of linking now, at the height of a political campaign. I find that at times such as this I tend to deal more with the political campaign and link to blogs which support the same candidate. At other times I write more about issues and are more likely to discuss both liberal and conservative perspectives.

Patrick Ruffini, a conservative, points out what I had already noticed since installing the script. Media blogs tend to link more to liberal than conservative blogs and are highlighted in blue. Some are calling this evidence of bias in reporting, but miss the fact that these sites are blogs which include opinion as opposed to hard news. Even if this proved a liberal viewpoint editorially it says nothing about bias in the news sections.

All this really proves is that media blogs link more to liberal than to conservative blogs. There are reasons beyond ideological bias which could explain this. I wonder how far back these computations go back. If they include the period of the primary battles, liberal blogs would be expected to receive more links due to the Democratic race lasting longer and being of greater news interest.

A more likely reason is the difference between liberal and conservative thought. While there are irrational ideologues and rational writers on both sides, conservatives tend far more often to base their arguments on ideology as opposed to facts. Contemporary liberalism is far more pragmatic on the issues with viewpoints more likely to be based upon facts, while conservatives are prone to ignore whatever facts contradict their ideology. As Stephen Colbert put it, “reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

In additon, during this election year conservatives have concentrated far more on unsubstantiated personal smears while liberal blogs are more likely to contain meaningful discussion of the issues, along with debunking of Republican smears. These factors make it far more likely that an objective journalist will find material worth linking to in liberal blogs than conservative blogs. Rather than crying media bias, conseratives might examine what it is in their writing, and thought process, which makes them less worthy of quoting.

Obama Extends Lead In Backlash Against McCain’s Dishonest Attacks

John McCain and his supporters have been avoiding discussion of the issues and instead concentrating on a variety of smears. Lately include tremendous exaggerations of Obama’s connections to William Ayers and to Acorn, along with a rather dishonest spin on the problems Acorn encounters in voter registration. Other McCain ads distort Obama’s record and misrepresent what he has said. What these attacks have in common, beyond their dishonesty, is that they are so transparently nonsensical that only the grossly uninformed and partisans who are out of touch with reality would be expected to fall for them. It is encouraging to find that the latest polls show that this is the case as Obama shows a strong lead over McCain.

Gallup’s daily tracking poll continues to show some daily noise but Tuesday showed a nine point lead, with some recent polls showing a lead of eleven. Gallup further breaks this down to a six or ten point lead depending upon what method is used to predict who will actually turn out to vote. The poll which is attracting the most interest today is a New York Times/CBS News poll which shows Obama to be up by fourteen, or a twelve point lead when third party candidates are included. While the McCain campaign is in denial over this result, when the three point margin of error is taken into consideration it only shows a mildly greater lead than other polls and could possibly even be the first sign of an expanding lead for Obama. It is certainly possible that McCain will narrow the gap as many losing candidates have in the past. Current projections also show Obama with over 350 electoral votes (such as here and here) and while McCain might take back some red states, it will be difficult for him to prevent an Obama victory.

Among the findings in the New York Times/CBS News poll is that of the 21% whose views of McCain have worsened, a quarter say it’s because of his pick of Sarah Palin. Even Bush strategist Matthew Dowd has recently been condemning the McCain campaign for being willing to put the country at risk by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. On the somewhat distressing side, the poll also shows that there is a small by still meaningful number who will apparently believe anything. Fourteen percent of Republicans and thirteen percent of independents believe that Obama is a Muslim.

More encouraging is that for the most part McCain’s attacks on Obama have been harmful to McCain:

After several weeks in which the McCain campaign sought to tie Mr. Obama to William Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground terrorism group, 64 percent of voters said that they had either read or heard something about the subject. But a majority said they were not bothered by Mr. Obama’s background or past associations. Several people said in follow-up interviews that they felt that Mr. McCain’s attacks on Mr. Obama were too rooted in the past, or too unconnected to the nation’s major problems.

“What bothers me is that McCain initially talked about running a campaign on issues and I want to hear him talk about the issues,” said Flavio Lorenzoni, a 59-year-old independent from Manalapan, N.J. “But we’re being constantly bombarded with attacks that aren’t relevant to making a decision about what direction McCain would take the country. McCain hasn’t addressed the real issues. He’s only touched on them very narrowly. This is a time when we need to address issues much more clearly than they ever have been in the past.”

With McCain’s strategy of basing his campaign on smears and ignoring the issues backfiring, it remains difficult to see how McCain can get back into the race. The negative impression he has created by his dishonest and erratic behavior during the campaign so far is unlikely to be erased should he finally change his campaign to deal with the issues. Even if the campaign should honestly deal with the issues it is doubtful this could help McCain considering how he is on the wrong side of most of the issues.