David Weigel Leaves Washington Post Following Leaks Of Criticism Of Right Wing

David Weigel provides a demonstration of how nothing on the web is really private–even on closed lists where such privacy is assumed. Weigel is a left libertarian whose views of the right wing seem to be similar to my own. It is not so much their views which repel myself and I believe Weigel, but that their actual policy positions turn out to be quite different from their limited government rhetoric. On top of that, there is the anti-intellectualism, adherence to conspiracy theories and revisionist history, xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism which, while not true of everyone on the right, is far too common for comfort.

Weigel was hired to cover the right wing for The Washington Post to some degree  I did question a major newspaper hiring him for such a position, suspecting from the start that his views might give conservatives more fuel for their attacks on the imaginary “liberal media.”

If this was the outcome, it wasn’t because of  any unfair bias being displayed in Weigel’s work. Even some conservatives were supportive of Weigel, such as at The American Spectator:

To start with, it’s important to note that all of the comments at the center of the recent uproar were made on a private email list that was supposed to be off the record. Just for a moment, think of the things that you’d say if you were joking or venting anger among friends, and imagine if they became public with context removed. If everything we said privately were public, I wonder how many of us would be able to maintain jobs or friendships. Weigel is being attacked for writing that the world would be better if Matt Drudge could “set himself on fire.” But people make off hand remarks like that all the time without literally wishing bodily harm upon other humans.

This and other private comments by Weigel have contributed to the charge that he’s hostile toward conservatives and a standard issue liberal, but I don’t think that’s accurate. I could just as easily report on private conversations in which he’s revealed a fondness for Ronald Reagan, a willingness to vote for Bobby Jindal as president, and agreed that Van Jones should have been fired for his 9/11 trutherism. Plus, it should be noted that in the past, he’s even contributed to the American Spectator.

It should also be noted that he went on Keith Olbermann’s show and shot down a story about Sarah Palin committing perjury that had been lighting up the liberal blogs and defended Cato’s Michael Cannon against a “dishonest and unfair hit” by the Center for American Progress.

I’ve disagreed with Weigel on a number of occasions, and have called him out when I’ve felt he’s placed an inordinate amount of focus on fringe characters or extreme statements made by conservatives. But I also know that he isn’t some “drive by” journalist. He knows his subject matter well, reads constantly, goes to lots of conservative events, maintains friendships with conservatives, and talks to a lot of conservatives for his articles and quotes them accurately.

Weigel’s resignation came not as a result of any signs of bias in his work but because of comments written on Journolist, a private email list, which were leaked. Unfortunately Weigel probably saw his comments as being the equivalent of private conservation when in reality any comments made on line can wind up being as public as anything posted on a blog.

It is unfortunate that Weigel is no longer at The Washington Post, but I am confident that he will find other sources to write for. I certainly hope so as we certainly need voices like his to help counter all the ignorance, hatred, and misinformation being spread by the authoritarian right.

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Democrats Using Obama To Get New Voters From 2008 To Turn Out In November

The Democrats face a major disadvantage in the 2010 midterm elections compared to the 2008 and presumably the 2012 election–they won’t have Barack Obama on the ballot. In addition, many of the young voters who helped Obama win typically do not vote in off year elections.  Obama also received the votes of many new voters in 2008, including minority voters. The Democratic National Committee began distributing the above video as part of an attempt to get the first time voters who backed Obama in 2008 to turn out in 2010:

“This year, the stakes are higher than ever,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by Democratic officials. “It will be up to each of you to make sure that young people, African Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again.

“If you help make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November,” he added, “then together we will deliver on the promise of change, hope and prosperity for generations to come.”

While so far Republicans have been winning the spin war despite being wrong on the issues, the Democrats are finally talking about explaining why voters should not return the Republicans to power:

Kaine said Obama plans to frame the elections as a choice between continued Democratic control or a return to Republican power. “Our story begins with: Democrats are results people and the Republicans are political obstructionists,” he said in an interview. “Do we want to continue the direction that sees us climbing out of the recession or do we want to go back to the same policies that put us in the ditch in the first place?”

The Democrats have a tough job considering how far ahead the Republicans are in the spin war.  For example,  Republicans have managed to get a substantial number of voters to tell pollsters they oppose the health care plan despite agreeing on the individual components of the plan. Conservatives have been misled into protesting higher taxes despite  receiving tax cuts from Obama. Republicans have also had success in denying the benefits of the stimulus package while getting many voters to forget which party is responsible for the recession in the first place.

While they are unable to actually govern, the Republicans are far better at distorting the facts to support their goals. Joe Gandelman even notes that this is being done with the above video. Politico ran the video as part of a story entitled  Obama seeks to ‘reconnect…young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women’ for 2010.” This headline is explained in the story:

The Democratic National Committee this morning released this clip of the president rallying the troops, if rather coolly, for 2010. Obama’s express goal: “reconnecting” with the voters who voted for the first time in 2008, but who may not plan to vote in the lower-profile Congressional elections this year.

Obama speaks with unusual demographic frankness about his coalition in his appeal to “young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again.”

Turning out those so-called “surge” voters — who turned out for the first time to back Obama, but who sat out gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia last year — has become the Democrats’ central pre-occupation for the midterm elections, and the new Democratic effort to nationalize the election around Obama and his agenda mark an attempt to energize those voters.

Gandelman then compared this to the spin in Drudge’s headline for the same story: “OBAMA PLAYS RACE CARD: RALLIES BLACKS, LATINOS FOR ‘10 UPSET”

Gandelman explained that the Politico story ” is further confirmation of something many on this site and a zillion other political blogs and mainstream reporters have noted: in order for the Democrats to win they need to get out the vote by getting out people who voted for the Dems last time and won the election.” He then explained why the Drudge story is inaccurate and concluded:

It’s pure, partisan button-pushing — which will translate (just you watch) into blog posts, indignant talk radio hosts, cable hosts asking about plans to play the “race card.” Who cares if it’s accurate or not? It’s a great chance to get indignant and arouse hatreds about an opponent. It’s (these days) as American as apple pie.

It will take all of Obama’s famed oratory skills to overcome the damage caused by the right wing noise machine.

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The Imaginary Obama Back Door Tax On The Middle Class

In case you are wondering why the link to the current top story on Memeorandum is not working, it is because Reuters took it down for being incorrect.

I think it was a simple misunderstanding. A Reuters reporter saw the description of taxes but missed the part where they only apply those making over $250,000 per year. The error was pointed out and they retracted the story.

Pretty simple, but I’ve already seen people on the right as well as some die hard Clintonistas also alleging there was something shady about the story being pulled. For Obama-haters a story that Obama is hitting the middle class with “back door” tax increases is too compelling to give up on, even if not true.

Unfortunately Drudge and the usual right wing suspects have been making a lot of  noise about the imaginary back door tax increases on the middle class all day. My bet is that they will continue to talk about this, even though it is untrue. On the other hand, they will ignore the fact that Obama’s stimulus plan  proposed the largest tax cut for the middle class ever. Even The Wall Street Journal described Obama’s proposed tax cuts as being larger than George W. Bush’s cuts. The health care reform which they oppose would save them even more money.

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Scientific Finding Upsets Rush Limbaugh

darwinius

The finding of a primate fossil is significant but the meaning has been distorted in some of the media coverage. The Opinionator summarizes the story about Ida and puts it in perspective. It is towards the end where things get interesting. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs uses  coverage of the story to finally determine that Rush Limbaugh is a creationist.

The question has come up several times, in our threads related to evolution, whether Rush Limbaugh is a creationist. I searched for definitive statements because I was curious where he stood, but was never able to really pin it down.

Well, today he pretty much settled the matter, with a rant about the “missing link” fossil announced by an international team of scientists; yep, he’s a creationist.

RUSH: Drudge had as a lead item up there this morning on his page a story from the UK, Sky News: “Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution.” It’s all about how Darwin would be thrilled to be alive today. “Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.” It’s a one-foot, nine-inch-tall monkey, and it’s a lemur monkey described as the eighth wonder of the world. “The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years – but it was presented to the world today —” So I guess this is settled science. We now officially came from a monkey, 47 million years ago. Well, that’s how it’s being presented here. It’s settled science. You know, this is all BS, as far as I’m concerned. Cross species evolution, I don’t think anybody’s ever proven that. They’re going out of their way now to establish evolution as a mechanism for creation, which, of course, you can’t do, but I’m more interested in some other missing link. And that is the missing link between our failing economy and prosperity.

Incidentally, while the finding is consistent with evolutionary science, it does not say that we came from a monkey. The early primate fossil could be a common ancestor to both monkeys and humans. It is also possible that it is a more distant relative.

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Conservative Scare Tactics On Medical Information Technology

On any given day I generally only get around to posting on a  portion of the items I consider writing about. One topic I had hoped  to write about yesterday was the conservative scare stories about the medical information provisions of the stimulus bill which originated in an op-ed by Betsy McCaughey. I never completed this as I’m probably not capable of discussing a topic such as health information technology without it turning into a long post and I had a evening meeting to get to. In addition there was a tremendous amount of false information included in the stories being spread by the right which warranted response. (Instead I wrote about the conservative scare stories about Cass Sunstein as this was something I could write about much more quickly and still make the meeting.)

In order to note that the conservative scare stories regarding medical information technology are nonsense, and to avoid falling too far today by writing about this topic in depth this afternoon, I’ll refer readers to some good posts on this topic.

The Progress Report summarized the provisions and the misinformation being spread by conservatives:

Late last month, the House passed an economic recovery package containing $20 billion for health information technology, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop standards by 2010 for a nationwide system to exchange health data electronically. The version of the recovery package passed by the Senate yesterday contains slightly less funding for health information technology (“health IT”). But as Congress moves to reconcile the two stimulus packages, conservatives have begun attacking the health IT provisions, falsely claiming that they would lead to the government “telling the doctors what they can’t and cannot treat, and on whom they can and cannot treat.” The conservative misinformation campaign began on Monday with a Bloomberg “commentary” by Hudson Institute fellow Betsy McCaughey, which claimed that the legislation will have the government “monitor treatments” in order to “‘guide’ your doctor’s decisions.” McCaughey’s imaginative misreading was quickly trumpeted by Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report, eventually ending up on Fox News, where McCaughey’s opinion column was described as ”a report.” In one of the many Fox segments focused on the column, hosts Megyn Kelly and Bill Hemmer blindsided Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) with McCaughey’s false interpretation, causing them to promise that they would “get this provision clarified.” On his radio show yesterday, Limbaugh credited himself for injecting the false story into the stimulus debate, saying that he “detailed it and now it’s all over mainstream media.”

McCAUGHEY GETS THE FACTS WRONG: In her commentary, McCaughey writes, “One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective.” But the fact is, this isn’t a new bureaucracy. The National Coordinator of Health Information Technology already exists. Established by President Bush in 2004, the office “provides counsel to the Secretary of HHS and Departmental leadership for the development and nationwide implementation” of “health information technology.” Far from empowering the Office to “monitor doctors” or requiring private physicians to abide by treatment protocols, the new language tasks the National Coordinator with “providing appropriate information” so that doctors can make better informed decisions. As Media Matters noted, the language in the House bill, on which McCaughey based her column, does not establish authority to “monitor treatments” or restrict what “your doctor is doing” with regard to patient care. Instead, it addresses establishing an electronic records system so that doctors can have complete, accurate information about their patients. The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky pointed out that “this provision is intended to move the country towards adopting money-saving health technology (like electronic medical records), reduce costly duplicate services and medical errors, and create jobs.”

HEALTH I.T. BELONGS IN RECOVERY PACKAGE: Projected to create over 200,000 jobs, the funding for health information technology in the recovery package is both an important stimulus and a down-payment on broader health care reform. Speaking in Ft. Myers, FL, yesterday, President Obama said that investment in health IT was “an example of using a crisis and converting it into an opportunity.” We are going to computerize our health care system, institute health IT,” said Obama. “That creates jobs right now for people to convert from a paper system to a computer system, but it also pays a long-term dividend by making the health care system more efficient.” Currently, fewer than 25 percent of hospitals, and fewer than 20 percent of doctor’s offices, employ health information technology systems. Researchers have found that implementing health IT would result in a mean annual savings of $40 billion over a 15-year period by improving health outcomes through care management, increasing efficiency, and reducing medical errors. Investing in health would also help primary care physicians — who often bear the burnt of tech implementation without seeing immediate benefits — afford the infrastructure for expansion. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that one-third of $2 trillion spent annually on health care in America may be unnecessary due to inefficiencies in the system such as excessive paperwork. Investments in infrastructure like health IT will help improve the quality of America’s health care.

The problem with conservative misinformation is that the right wing noise machine spreads the misinformation to other sources. Steve Benen reviewed the flow of this misinformation. He shows how the false claims in an op-ed were quickly picked up by Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Fox, and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.

I previously noted that The American College of Physicians backs the Health IT provisions in the stimulus bill. The ACP would hardly back a bill which would allow Washington to tell physicians what we can and cannot do as McCaughey claimed.

While many physician organizations support funding for medical information technoligy, there remains questions as to how the money should be spent.  A group of fifty experts in electronic health records, most of whom are physicians, have sent this letter (pdf) to the White House and Congressional offices urging funding of programs to help small physician organizations to implement electronic medical records systems.

Yesterday Michelle Cottle looked at some of the other complexities which must be worked out.

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The Imaginary Drop in Obama’s Support

Mark Halperin has made a career of taking right wing talking points and getting the media to repeat them as fact. You would think that others in the media would have caught on to his tactics by now. Steven Leser points out that Halperin has gotten away with this once again.

Yesterday Halperin picked up on a right wing talking point which was making the rounds of conservative blogs the last couple of days with a misleading post which said, “USA Today/Gallup poll shows 64% approve of the job the president is doing so far in office, down from a pre-Inauguration high of 83%.”  Leser writes that Chris Matthews and Anderson Cooper repeated this on their Friday shows. He also pointed out what was wrong with this claim:

What’s the problem? It combines information from two different polls that ask different questions and reaches an unsupported and erroneous conclusion.

The first poll deals with Obama’s transition. Gallup asked people “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his presidential transition?” http://www.gallup.com/poll/113824/Obama-Wins-83-Approval-Rating-Transition.aspx the final metric for this was that 83% of the country approved of then President-elect Obama’s transition efforts.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the question “How do you think President Barack Obama is doing his job?” is not the same question as “How is President-Elect Barack Obama handling his transition?”

The error gets even worse, because Halperin’s suggestion of a drop from 83% to 64% doesn’t even rely on unrelated polls from the same polling agency.

Conservatives would like to think there has been such a rapid drop in support for Obama, but the facts do not support this. Journalists should know better than to accept claims from Halperin without fact checking as taking something from Halperin is essentially the same as taking claims from Matt Drudge or the conservative blogosphere.

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The Right Now Prefers Conspiracy Theorists at Pravda Over The Work of Scientists

I’ve often noted (such as here) the propensity of many right wing bloggers to accept and spread any story which casts doubt upon global warming, regardless of how weak the article is or how much it relies upon junk science. The mind set is that the more claims you have to back up your beliefs, regardless of how weak the evidence, you can claim some sort of victory.

John Quiggin examines such denialism, writing:

I’ll start with some facts that are, if not indisputable, at least sufficiently clear that I don’t intend to engage in dispute about them

(i) All major scientific organisations in the world[1] endorse, in broad terms, the analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which states that the world is getting warmer and that, with high (> 90 per cent) probability, this warming is predominantly due to human action

(ii) Most prominent politicians[2], thinktanks, activists, commentators and bloggers on the political right in Australia, the US and Canada (along with a large section in the UK) reject, or express doubts about, this analysis. The uniformity of views is particularly notable among conservative thinktanks.

Quiggin speculates on reasons for global warming denialism including influence from “powerful economic interests such as ExxonMobil” and “tribal dislike of environmentalists which translated easily to scientists as a group.” I believe the two strongest reasons are an understandable but misguided desire that the problem not exist to avoid the costs of responding and the matter in which this plays into conservative paranoia. Although the ideological battle with communism and socialism  is long over and current liberals are often stronger supporters of the free market system than conservatives, many conservatives still live with the mind set of an old Ayn Rand novel. They are easily susceptible to ridiculous arguments that the left desires to undermine the free market system and place all industry under government control, and that scientists have joined them in a plot to use global warming as an excuse.

The Daily Doubter points out the extents some on the right will go in accepting any report which might be used to cast doubt upon climate change.

Given PRAVDA‘s 80 year history as the official Soviet Communist propaganda outlet and the psuedo-conservative extreme dislike for all things communist, one might be inclined to think that such conservative” websites would be pretty skeptical about anything published under the name PRAVDA.

Unless, that is, Matt Drudge happens to link to an article up on PRAVDA claiming that anthropogenic global warming is bad science and that the Earth is in fact “on the brink” of an ice age. In which case you get sites like these eating it up without a critical thought. Newsbusters called it “a study … published by Pravda” and speculated that since cooling is on the way we need to start building more oil refineries and doing more off-shore drilling. Imagine that.

The post concludes by advising that it is far better to receive  “climate science info from, say, Discover or Scientific American or New Scientist as opposed to an on-line variant of a post-Soviet state tabloid.”

Yet another point made is that the author of the artile in Pravda is also a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. Tim Lambert notes that “this doesn’t bother NewsBusters’ Noel Shepherd one little bit

How delicious that an America-hating Truther who contributes to Pravda has a firmer grasp of  climatology than Nobel Laureate Al Gore, James Hansen, Gavin Schmidt, and most of the folks at the IPCC.

Yes, the right wing denialists don’t care at all why they quote as long as it supports their biases. The rest of us are far more likely to trust the work of scientists at the IPCC rather than a conspiracy theorist writing for Pravda.

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Mark Halperin, Right Wing Hack-Journalist, Criticizes Media For Pro-Obama Bias

Mark Halperin, who has made a career out of quoting right wing talking points and unsubstantiated stories from Drudge as fact, now further reduces his credibility by attacking the news media for “extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.”

The examples provided in this report are quite weak, comparing two stories on Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain. This shows the journalistic sloppiness Halperin is known for. There is no doubt you can find stories which show both bias for and against either spouse (as well as each candidate). To compare only two stories proves absolutely nothing, especially as there are far more negative facts in Cindy McCain’s past than in Michelle Obama’s.

Jake Tapper weighs in supporting his former colleague by citing the limited media coverage of a Spanish language ad from Obama which was misleading. Both sides ran misleading ads, but McCain ran far more dishonest ads and his ads went far further than any of the ads I wish Obama had not run in distorting the truth. Most likely Obama’s Spanish language ad received minimal coverage because it was in Spanish, and as it wasn’t as significant to the campaigns as, for example, McCain’s totally dishonest ads on Obama’s tax policies. McCain’s dishonesty on this was so over the top that even Fox couldn’t allow McCain to get away with it.

Even if coverage was one sided, Halperin hardly has the credibility to complain. In reality, Obama received lots of attention from the media for obvious reasons, but the coverage included both positive and negative reports. Media stories were dominated by the horse race, and often coverage of Obama was favorable based upon his leads in the polls.

If McCain did not receive the coverage which Halperin would have liked him to receive, the problem is largely due to the nature of the campaign McCain decided to run. McCain concentrated on dishonest attacks on Obama, regularly distorting the facts and Obama’s positions, and failed to make coherent arguments for voting for him. Of course Halperin, who has never been able to separate right wing talking points from reality, was probably oblivious to this McCain also did not help his case by limiting answers from the press and frequently attacking the media.

If anything the media was even more favorable to McCain than he deserved. While fact checkers often debunked McCain’s frequent lies in separate stories, this made it into regular coverage far less than it should have. McCain’s frequent gaffes and statements which demonstrated poor command of the issues were also overlooked by many reporters. The media often went overboard to in avoiding criticism of McCain, such as in his poor showing in the debates.  As Editor and Publisher points out:

This year, one of the best high-profile measures of how the media often bent over backwards to be kind to McCain surrounded the four presidential and veep debates.  In every case, most of the TV network anchors and analysts declared when the debates ended that the Republican had tied or won narrowly.  Then the post-debate polls of voters came in, showing that in every case, Obama or Biden won easily.

Individual criticism can be made towards many of the news reports, but to claim that overall the media was showing bias towards Obama, especially to a degree greater than seen in previous elections, is absurd.

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Fact Checker Debunks Attacks on Obama and Redistribution of Wealth

I debunked the claims being made about Obama wanting to redistribute the wealth in a post earlier today. Those who read it earlier might want to check back as I have updated it with links to several other bloggers commenting, as well as responses from one of Obama’s economic advisers. The Fact Checker at The Washington Post has now looked into this and finds the charges being made against Obama are untrue. They conclude by saying, “The McCain camp is wrong to suggest that the Illinois senator advocated an ‘wealth redistribution’ role for the Supreme Court in his 2001 interview.”

Since my earlier round up of comments on this story, Joe Klein has also weighed in:

Well, we’ve seen this sort of thing the entire campaign,occasionally from the Obama camp, relentlessly from McCain. Today’s edition of scrofulous mudslinging–aided and abetted by a banner headline from the Drudge Scourge–involves a wildly inaccurate reading of remarks that Barack Obama made in a 2001 radio interview. It turns out that he wasn’t criticizing the Supreme Court for its failure to “redistribute” wealth. He was saying the exact opposite: that the Supreme Court wasn’t the way to go. He was saying that political power was the only real way to make decisions about the distribution of taxation. Obama’s sentiment is, of course, a wildly radical notion–or, at least it was, before the American Revolution.

To state the obvious, once again: We have had a redistribution of wealth, upward, during the Reagan era. Taxes on work, a.k.a. payroll taxes, have increased. Taxes on wealth, the upper margins of the income tax plus capital gains plus estate taxes, have decreased. To call Obama a socialist because he wants to redress this imbalance is as accurate as calling McCain an oligarch because he doesn’t.

Now that McCain’s been called out on this, you figure he’ll stop using it, right? Yeah, sure. After all, this is mild compared to the trash going out in those robo-calls. You wonder how McCain returns to the land of the living after this campaign is over–after all, his voice and vote, and his pre-campaign moderation, would be valuable on issues like immigration and global warming. There must be some sort of political detox, right?

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The End of the Freak Show and the Conservative Arguments Against Obama

Guy Benson (www.guybensonshow.com) and Mary Katharine Ham (www.weeklystandard.com) have posted what they consider to be The comprehensive argument against Barack Obama at Hot Air. Their inability to come up with anything more with more substance than this, along with the lack of any positive argument to vote for John McCain, demonstrates why Obama is now so far ahead in the polls. The post consists of a lot of distortions and repetition of standard right wing talking points which I and others have debunked multiple times throughout the campaign, and which voters are ignoring this year.

Their arguments consist of the type of freak show politics which Matt Drudge has promoted in recent years as described by Mark Halperin and John Harris in The Way to Win. The failure of such smears to gain traction points to a change in the political climate discussed by Eric Boehlert today as he discussed how Drudge has lost his influence compared to that described by Halperin and Harris in The Way to Win. Eric wrote:

Why the misfires? As Halperin himself noted in 2006, “Matt Drudge is not doing stories on policy, on welfare, on healthcare. He’s doing stories on the most salacious aspects of American politics. When that drives the dialogue, that’s where the country heads, that’s where our political coverage heads.”

Thanks to our current economic crisis, “the most salacious aspects of American politics,” as Halperin put it, have taken a vacation during the closing weeks of this campaign. And the press can’t even pretend that those “salacious aspects” are remotely newsworthy, which means the second part of Halperin’s claim, about Drudge driving the dialogue, no longer applies.

Halperin’s writing partner John Harris admitted as much recently while addressing students at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York. In an article on Harris’ speech, the local paper reported: “The Republican Party’s ‘Machiavellian’ style of attack politics hasn’t struck a chord in this election, Mr. Harris said, leaving John McCain to shift strategies nearly weekly.”

The so-called comprehensive argument against Obama represents a futile attempt to restore the freak show to its dominance in selecting presidents at a time when the electorate has moved beyond this and wants a serious candidate who has meaningful positions on the real issues.

I have already discussed many of these arguments in depth and will only quickly outline the flaws in the these arguments against Obama. Their arguments would only be persuasive to those who lack a moral compass and accept the authoritarian mind set and dishonesty of the far right or who are ignorant of the issues and Obama’s actual positions. They pretend to be providing information by utilizing video clips, but they repeatedly take comments out of context and surround them with outright untrue statements and misinterpretations in what amounts to a crude hatchet job and not meaningful political discourse.

Their first point comes the closest to being over a real issue. While they grossly distort Obama’s views, repeat the usual right wing nonsense on partial-birth abortions, ignore Obama’s opposition to late term abortions unless the health of the mother is in danger, and even repeat the smear that Obama supports infanticide, there is a real differences between the parties on abortion rights. What they fail to understand that a majority reject the view of the authoritarian right that they have the right to control the bodies of others. A majority agree with Obama on abortion, and reminding them that John McCain would return us to the era of shirt-hanger abortions will not help him pick up any votes. Even many who oppose abortion rights would not go as far as John McCain and Sarah Palin in ignoring exceptions based upon the health of the mother or rape.

Their second point distorts Obama’s views on taxes, distorting his words and claiming that Obama’s comment to “spread the wealth around” does not sound like the words of a tax cutter. An objective comparison of the tax policies of Obama and McCain was reviewed here. They miss the point that by spreading the wealth around Obama means giving a tax cut to the middle class. They also erroneously claim that increases in capital gains taxes decreases tax revenue, and vice versa, along with ignoring the fact that Obama’s proposed increases in capital gains taxes will only affect couples making over $250,000 per year, and the tax would still be less than under Ronald Reagan. Changes in the capital gains rate primarily changes how investment income is structured and changes where the taxes come from far more than the total tax revenue raised, making it easy to play politically motivated games with the results of a rate change. The ability to distort the consequences of tax rates on investment income is further complicated by the fact that more taxes are brought in when the market is rising. Tax revenue will increase during a strong bull market if the capital gains rate is raised, lowered, or remains the same.

Their third point is to again raise the debunked claims of radical associations which I have already discussed in numerous posts. The ironies in this attack are that 1) John McCain is the one who really has associations with extremists, and 2) these McCarthist attacks on Obama have wound up backfiring against McCain, providing serious people with a real reason to stay clear of the authoritarian right.

Bringing up foreign policy judgment was a poor choice considering that Obama was right on opposing going to war, regardless of how much they want to minimize this. Obama was also right about the surge, regardless of how they want to distort his actual position. Opponents of the surge predicted a decrease in violence with an increase in troops, but the real issue is achieving a political settlement which allows us to leave rather than remaining in Iraq for one-hundred years. While John McCain might be okay with this strategy, the majority of American voters are not.

Similarly they distort Obama’s position on negotiations, appearing to not even understand what “precondition” means diplomatically. While Obama is not demanding preconditions as to the outcome of negotiations, he is not supporting negotiations without any preparation or conditions as they falsey imply. They quote Hillary Clinton and John Edwards’ politically motivated opposition to Obama’s position during the primaries but ignore the support for diplomacy recently expressed by five former secretaries of state. Most voters will feel more comfortable with a candidate who wants to talk to Iran and realize that singing “Bomb, Bomb. Bomb Iran” as McCain has only worsens the situation.

Their claims of disdain for the heartland and playing the race card based upon statements taken out of context and creative interpretations of his meaning, are total nonsense which will have no traction. Their claim of lack of accomplishments ignores Obama’s actual accomplishments. Besides, this a rather bizarre argument to still bring up against Obama after John McCain picked Sarah Palin, who has a fraction of the experience which Obama has, to be his running mate.

More importantly in terms of the election, American voters have seen Barack Obama and John McCain together in three debates besides watching both on the campaign trail. It has been clear that Obama, despite (or perhaps because of) less years in Washington, Obama has far better understanding of the issues, better judgment, and holds the positions held by a majority of voters. Such attempts to revive the freak show will not work as voters are now looking for the candidate who can best solve our actual problems, not the types of problems which only haunt the imaginations of those on the far right. These attempts to replay the politics of past elections when voters have moved beyond such nonsense is exactly why Democrats took control of Congress in 2006 and why John McCain is unlikely to be elected president.

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