Back to previous post: That Voodoo That You Do

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Hurricane Ike

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

September 10, 2008

Someone Wrong On Internet
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:04 PM * 125 comments

McCain blames Obama.

John McCain, aware as he is of the Internet, has launched a new ad. Over a picture of Barack Obama, with a banner reading Factcheck.org. “completely false”…”misleading.” he compares Democrats to a wolfpack trying to tear down Governor Palin.

Here’s what Factcheck.org actually says:

We’ve been flooded for the past few days with queries about dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages making claims about McCain’s running mate, Gov. Palin. We find that many are completely false, or misleading.

Yes, indeed! There are some anonymous posts in comment threads on message boards that are not completely accurate! There are anonymous emails that are downright scurrilous!

Not that we haven’t heard more, and worse, about Obama, Hillary, and any other Democrat. The Republicans are no strangers to scurrilous, anonymous emails. It’s Okay If You’re A Republican. (IOKIYAR.)

There’s no reason to think that the slanders and smears are coming from Obama. For all anyone knows they’re coming from Republican operatives who are playing their own game to draw attention away from McCain.

Shall we talk about completely false and misleading? Let’s talk about another one of McCain’s ads, one that claims Obama voted to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergarten kids. That one came out with the voiceover, “I’m John McCain and I approve this message.”

Comments on Someone Wrong On Internet:
#1 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 05:19 PM:

Kevin Drum forsees lots of negative consequences to this election because of the slime, and frankly I think he's being optimistic:
http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2008/09/ungovernable.html

#2 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 05:38 PM:

Oh Noes! Somebody is wrong on the Internet!

#3 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 05:45 PM:

Even I know what "lipstick on a pig" means.

#4 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 05:45 PM:

This completely fits with McCain's known horrific temper. For the next two months it'll be outrage, outrage, outrage 24/7 over anything they can cook up, to distract people from the outrages committed against the poor and middle class, against veterans, against the Constitution itself - outrages that McCain (bent over, grabbed his ankles and) supported for eight years.

#5 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 05:47 PM:

I really wish that our wonderful liberal media would call the GOP on this stuff. Then again, just look at who signs their paychecks.

I just sent another contribution to the Obama campaign - I hope they use it wisely. Unfortunately, I fully expect that we'll have another close election and irregularities somewhere (maybe Ohio again) will break in favor of McCain and we'll be in an even bigger mess in four years.

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Here's McCain's "sex education" ad.

Here's McCain's "wolf pack" ad.

Just remember, when you see them, that each of them end, "I'm John McCain and I approve this message." That should tell you all that you need to know about McCain's character.

#7 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 05:55 PM:

So what the ad is saying is that John McCain doesn't want kids to be protected from sexual predators? That's the message I get from it.

#8 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:03 PM:

Marc #7: If kids were protected from sexual predators, where would it end? Maybe they'd learn to protect themselves from all sorts of predators, and then how would the next generation of Rethuglicans get rich?

#9 ::: Rulial ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:12 PM:

Hopefully, when people see the ad, they will go to FactCheck to check it out, and then they will see the top story on FactCheck is Brooks Jackson's article McCain-Palin Distorts Our Finding, which begins:

A McCain-Palin ad has FactCheck.org calling Obama's attacks on Palin "absolutely false" and "misleading." That's what we said, but it wasn't about Obama.

Our article criticized anonymous e-mail falsehoods and bogus claims about Palin posted around the Internet. We have no evidence that any of the claims we found to be false came from the Obama campaign.

The McCain-Palin ad also twists a quote from a Wall Street Journal columnist. He said the Obama camp had sent a team to Alaska to "dig into her record and background." The ad quotes the WSJ as saying the team was sent to "dig dirt."

Update, Sept. 10: Furthermore, the Obama campaign insists that no researchers have been sent to Alaska and that the Journal owes them a correction.

They will hopefully read the rest of the article, in which Jackson describes the McCain ad as "less than honest". Finally, they will wonder why the McCain campaign continues to make assertions that can be refuted on the Internet in thirty seconds.

#10 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:15 PM:

I was thinking about the whole "lipstick on a pig" thing today.

Whether that was his intent or not, the GOP has now linked the image of pig with McCain and Palin. I think he should run with that:

* "You can dress a pig up in a top hat, but it's still a pig"
* "Cutting taxes for big business while doubling the national deficit is still feeding at the public trough"

#11 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:19 PM:

McCain has apparently had to pull ads due to copyright infringement, in addition to various musicians/audio artists publically decrying McCain for using their music in when the artists are opposed McCain's policies and oppose his campaign.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:19 PM:

lipstick on a pig

Darn. Where did I put that photo of Miss Piggy?

#13 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:26 PM:

#9 Rulial : Finally, they will wonder why the McCain campaign continues to make assertions that can be refuted on the Internet in thirty seconds.

That's because while McCain is "aware of the Internet," he isn't "aware of all Internet traditions."

#14 ::: Barbara ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Am I completely naive to ask if there's some oversight, somewhere, that will call McCain to task for lying in an ad that has his little sponsorship message at the end? Saying Sen. Obama voted to teach comprehensive sex ed to kindergartners goes beyond twisting -- that's an outright slanderous lie.

#15 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:33 PM:

The other day I saw an ad for the movie Baby Mama, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The image has Fey looking doubtfully sideways at a slightly dazed-looking Poehler, with the caption "Would you put your eggs in this basket?"
An image can be seen here.

I'd love to see someone photoshop this, with Palin swapped out for Fey, a shell-shocked McCain replacing Poehler. I'm not sure what to change the title to though ...
... maybe "Bomb Mama?"?

#16 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:42 PM:

"No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was was impossible to say which was which."

#17 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:44 PM:

I just can't get over the hypocrisy of calling out Obama for the "pig in lipstick" comment when in fact, McCain used the term first in reference to Hillary C.'s health insurance proposals, and Obama was in fact talking specifically about a McCain platform item.

Yet who gets all the outrage?

#18 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Okay, I'm officially depressed for the day: I've been doing okay reading the news and thinking that it will blow over, it's all convention/veep announcement hubbub, and there's no possible way for the GOP to win this time.

And then I heard two co-workers having a chat about how much they loooove Sarah Palin, and how horrible it is that the dems are trying so hard to smear her, and how dare they, and by the way, Rossi is totally going to win this time (Washington state, Governor).

And they were just. so. sincere. They really believe that the mean ol' left is being mean to Palin, and the only actual issue they brought up was abortion, which is very very wrong. (You know what else is wrong? Describing the procedure that we in the sane world know as a "caesarian," and decrying how anyone could kill poor little babies that way. Hi, that's how my son was born. As in, became alive.)

Please, someone tell me it's all going to be okay. Pretty please?

#19 ::: jenny ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 06:47 PM:

Hmm... I'm thinking the word choice is ironic.. Dems are a "wolfpack" hunting Palin, seeing as Palin supports aerial wolf hunting (vetoed a bill to ban hunting wolves from helicopters). Anyway...

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 07:05 PM:

Sarah @ 18... "caesarian," and decrying how anyone could kill poor little babies that way

That reminds me of the time I mentionned that I had had a vasectomy, and one of my relatives asked "Doesn't that make you stupid?" because she thought I had had my testicles removed.

#21 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 07:32 PM:

I feel like I feel when I take my neatly sorted recyclables to the recycling area, which has neatly labeled bins with "NO GARBAGE" in very large letters on top, and eight time out of ten finding heaps of random trash in there.

I used to spend lots of time taking the bags of dog shit out of the cardboard bin, and wadded up diapers out of the "household paper" bin, and foam take-out containers out of the plastic bottle bin.

No more. Because there are an endless supply of stupid, short-sided, lazy people out there who no amount of big signs and community spirit will reach.

The Republicans are, with their ads, reaching out to stupid, short-sided, intellectually lazy people.

And as I've said before when I lost my temper here, @$#%$% them. Let their jobs be sent overseas; let their kids in the service get deployed to stupid war after stupid war until their families and health are ruined; let their homes get foreclosed on and rental housing be miserable middens run by unaccountable slumlords. Let them eat adulterated unhealthy food. If they're ignorant enough to believe the truthiness, smarm, and false outrage, they deserve it.

I just wish they wouldn't take the rest of the country down with them.

#22 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 07:32 PM:

Anti-abortion single-issue voters are not going to vote for Democrats anyway, unless they're anti-abortion Democrats. Those people care more about abortion than anything else in the world.

The appropriate response to McCain complaining about liberal attacks on Palin is "waah, wah, waaah, cry me a river." This is how it works when they do it to us. I don't like sexist or false attacks as much as anyone, and I don't think the Obama campaign should adopt them; but they generally haven't, and there's no point in being bothered just because McCain gets upset about Democratic tactics. That's good; that means we scored a point. Driving McCain over the edge helps us. It's not a pretty game, I admit.

#23 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 07:36 PM:

BTW, Dave Neiwert article on Palin's radical-right connections.

Sarah, #18: her bio is very nice, and she's cute. In six months, when they know her better, people are going to be going, "Oooh, ick," but the election is in two months.

Grrr. Growl. Snap.

#25 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 07:51 PM:

People are saying untrue things about Sarah Palin? WHY? It's like... putting pigshit on a pig.

#26 ::: Rulial ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 07:53 PM:

FactCheck has come out with a refutation of the McCain education ad, too.

The McCain tactic seems to be to mislead low-information voters. Each of us probably knows some of these people: They don't read political blogs. If they get a newspaper at all, they glance at the front page and then move on to the comics or sports section. They get most of their political information from their local TV newscast or from 30-second TV ads. It's these voters we need to reach. You don't necessarily even have to encourage them to vote for Obama. It might be enough to gently point them to places where they can get objective, truthful information.

#27 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 07:54 PM:

A guy writing into the local paper suggested that no one should criticize Palin because she was an example of the kind of Pioneer Women who built this country.

Like she was born in a sod hut on the prairie (rather than a hospital in Idaho), raised piglets to pay for the one pair of socks her siblings shared, and got her book learning from Wassalia One Room School House Number One.

I don't drink. But the coffee and mint liquor I keep around for baking are starting to look mighty good.

#28 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 08:02 PM:

A colleague -- ex-Air Force (flew missions in Viet Nam) has been going through a real crisis of conscience with this election. He seems to be leaning towards McCain, even though he's terribly unhappy about Palin and about McCain himself. But he's taken to talking about what Obama needs to do to win. And he is sure that what Obama needs is to show a bit of emotion -- to film a few ads that show him expressing a bit of righteous anger as he refutes the lies. Of course, this colleague also says that Obama should publicly call on McCain to agree to a no-smear campaign -- and he agrees that that is unlikely, because he sees Rove all over the McCain ads. And this from a man who realy *wants* to vote for McCain.

#29 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 08:14 PM:

One good thing is that the press is running Obama's comments and has stopped giving the Republicans a free pass. The only reason someone like Palin could get anywhere near high office is because they've been giving the radical right a pass for years now and they seem to actually be scared. I hope the change makes a difference fast enough.

James D. Macdonald, #24: ABC News own link (less likely to be pulled for copyright reasons.)

Sarah, #18: you can point out that she's got ties to a violent revolutionary party, the Alaska Independence Party (her husband was actually a member--talk about sleeping with the enemy!), that she was for the bridge to nowhere until it became a political embarrassment and now she dissembles whenever it's brought up (even the MSM are picking it up), and that she's been paying herself staying at home while she is governor. It's all true.

Myself, back on August 30th, when the details of her life and career were still a bit blurry, I wrote: "I think she's a tough, smart, charming, corrupt, photogenic fanatic, sort of like W. Bush with her shit together, and now that she's on the national stage, she has the potential to be a great deal of trouble. She also must have just about zero empathy for women unlike herself." Now that the picture is clearer, I see no reason to change a word of it.

#30 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 08:17 PM:

Serge @ 20 -- wait, what? I'm so confused.

Stefan Jones @ 27, I know what you mean. I think I'm going to do progressive muscle relaxation and safe-place visualization in lieu of drinking heavily. One is a lot healthier than the other, and I need to do something so that I don't just start screaming in the streets.

#31 ::: Eileen Gunn ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 08:30 PM:

The Rovians are trying to put Obama into a position in which he cannot avoid doing the wrong thing: either he responds to Spiro T. Agnew-style attacks from a v.p. candidate who has shown no substance so far on genuine issues -- in which case he both looks like an angry black man and participates in the content-free sparring match -- or he continues to discuss the very serious issues that could tear this country apart over the next few years -- in which case he looks like a guy who can’t push back.

I sure hope the American people are smarter than the Rovians think they are, and smarter than that subset of the media that would rather talk about mudwrestling than the future of the planet.

#32 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 08:36 PM:

It seems to me that Republicans have discovered outrage over something called sexism while skipping the steps of actually wanting to, or probably even being able to identify sexism.

It's probably because McCain is such a sexist creep. I hear that's a handicap in understanding sexism.

#33 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 08:40 PM:

#29, Randolph: The phrase that came to mind when I first heard of Sarah Palin is from the description of Zaphod Beeblebrox in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - "young, brash, and terrifyingly electable."

#34 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 08:48 PM:

#26, rulial:

The McCain tactic seems to be to mislead low-information voters.... It's these voters we need to reach. You don't necessarily even have to encourage them to vote for Obama. It might be enough to gently point them to places where they can get objective, truthful information.

Rulial, out of curiosity, have you read anything by George Lakoff? Don't Think Of An Elephant, perhaps? I ask because Lakoff makes a powerful argument (especially in his later work, The Political Mind) that this thinking -- the facts are on our side, so if we show voters the facts they will be on our side, too -- is a big part of why progressives lose. Because voters don't make decisions on a purely rational basis, and Republicans have learned to exploit that rather than bemoaning it.

I agree that we need to reach these voters, but saying "here are the facts" isn't going to be enough to do so; if they're voting based on emotion, then we need to appeal to emotion.

#35 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 09:07 PM:

debcha, #33: big grin.

#36 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 09:30 PM:

lorax @ #34, what's very frustrating for many liberal/progressive observers is that the American public leans liberal on most social issues according to Pew's polls, but that leaning doesn't get translated into wins in elections. Apparently "just the facts, ma'am" doesn't work by itself.

#37 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 10:07 PM:

lorax @34 - I agree wholeheartedly except for one thing. The Republicans haven't "learned to take advantage of it" -- they come from an entire philosophy based on it. Facts are unimportant; narrative is all there is -- that's essentially what faith is, and I really think evangelical Xtianity is a gateway drug to this kind of protofascism. If you never have to examine your beliefs -- if, as in my sister's past history with the Church of Indianapolis, you are punished for asking questions -- then I believe that at some point you simply realize ... if no belief need be examined, then you can simply believe whatever you want to.

This freedom from reality is what the Republicans boast of. And we are seeing the outcome of this faith-based governance right before us. Uncomfortable that attacking Iraq might not work out? Simply choose to believe that it will. Uncomfortable that it didn't work out? Simply choose to believe that it did. If people call you on it, double down, say they hate America, because your wishes are America.

At least 30% of us think this way. At some level, I personally believe every human being thinks this way, but most of us grow out of it, learn to modulate it, if you will, become scientists of a sort. Evangelical Xianity is the technique of simply realizing you can ungrow back into a prerational worldview.

Personally, I am having the time of my life on this one. I realize that it really doesn't matter. Obama will probably win, and his Presidency will be a grueling hell as he attempts to fix even a small amount of the incredible damage these charlatans have wrought. But maybe McCain/Palin will win, the evangelical prayers will be answered and McCain will croak within a few weeks, and we will have a new Worst President Ever. More drama! More disengagement from the idea worldwide that America knows what the bleep it's talking about! In the long run, this is a good thing for everybody.

But no matter what else happens, we'll get either our first female President or our first black one. Also, I have always thought that it was a little sad that the rip-roaring election antics of the Nineteenth Century were a thing of history -- and now they're not! One candidate has implied that the other is the Antichrist! You can't make up entertainment like this. It's fantastic.

#38 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Randolph @ 29: "She also must have just about zero empathy for women unlike not genetically related to herself."

FTFY.

Eileen Gunn @ 31" "The Rovians are trying to put Obama into a position in which he cannot avoid doing the wrong thing: either he responds to Spiro T. Agnew-style attacks from a v.p. candidate who has shown no substance so far on genuine issues -- in which case he both looks like an angry black man and participates in the content-free sparring match -- or he continues to discuss the very serious issues that could tear this country apart over the next few years -- in which case he looks like a guy who can’t push back."

On the other hand, McCain's not the only one who's got a VP--why not send out Biden to get angry and take on Palin's endless series of scandals and lies? Obama escapes angry black man status, Biden gets to flex his attack dog muscles (and stays away from McCain, about whom he just can't stop saying great things), and Obama gets to focus on what he does best--make liberalism sound really, really awesome.

lorax @ 34: "Rulial, out of curiosity, have you read anything by George Lakoff? Don't Think Of An Elephant, perhaps? I ask because Lakoff makes a powerful argument (especially in his later work, The Political Mind) that this thinking -- the facts are on our side, so if we show voters the facts they will be on our side, too -- is a big part of why progressives lose."

I'm wary of Lakovian arguments that the only way to beat the Republicans is to abandon making arguments based on fact and reason. Once we give that up in favor of tribal appeals and kneejerk politics, how are we different from the Republicans? No--the argument that liberals need to be making in an emotional, impassioned way is that the facts matter, and that understanding the facts is important.

#39 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Pushing "fact and reason" as the be all and end all is as much an obsessive faith-based tactic as pushing "religion" or "conservatism" -- and I strongly suspect that everybody would be vehemently comfortable in saying that their way was -clearly- the best and most correct.

#40 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 11:11 PM:

Rurial #26:

I'm not sure I've ever seen a political TV ad that was aimed at informed voters, to be honest. Maybe I have, but I can't recall one. The best you get is a couple soundbites ("I voted in favor of the Motherhood and Apple Pie Act, and I like puppies"). The usual run of them is nasty and stupid attack ads, with a bad picture of their target in black and red, and annoying music in the background.

Maybe some of those Perot ads/informercials qualify--they actually seemed to be trying to convey information about his beliefs.

#41 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 11:29 PM:

xeger@36:

"Pushing "fact and reason" as the be all and end all is as much an obsessive faith-based tactic as pushing "religion" or "conservatism" "

Wait what? I strongly suggest that this is a concept you are not actually familiar with, because "fact and reason" aren't faith-based at all, and pushing them thus can't be a "faith-based tactic". Saying that "fact and reason explain everything" is explicitly _denying_ faith-based tactics. It is, of course, a tactic itself ... but "educational" might be a better adjective for it.

Would you care to try again, more comprehensibly? All I see here is an attempt to redefine terms to your own advantage, Humpty-like.

"-- and I strongly suspect that everybody would be vehemently comfortable in saying that their way was -clearly- the best and most correct"

You haven't hung around these here parts much, have you?

--Dave "will question authority for food" DeLaney

#42 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2008, 11:39 PM:

lorax, #34: people are very fond of their stories to be sure (my impression is that Lakoff's "frames" are types of stories), but perhaps we can replace "Mary Sue" with "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing", or even "Evil Stepmother". One reason my early intuitions have been validated by later facts, is that I know more of the kinds of story--histories--that come from Palin's time and place. And, yes, pressing this on people is harsh. But think of the outcome if Palin becomes President!

Michael, #37: if Palin becomes president, she might be the last woman president for a century. She looks that bad.

heresiarch, #38: "She also must have just about zero empathy for women unlike not genetically related to herself." I'm not even sure that is true--look how she treated her pregnant daughter. One of the ways Palin could go down is in a family disaster.

#43 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 12:58 AM:

heresiarch, #38: It occurs to me that one possible point of fact-based attack is, "McCain is lying to you, and he's doing it because he thinks you're dumb enough to buy it." That's where places like factcheck.org could be worth their weight in gold-pressed latinum.

David, #41: Not to put too fine a point on it, xeger's handle is more familiar to me here than yours. I think you've made an unwarranted and unjustified assumption about his position.

I'm rather fond of the aphorism "Faith requires no facts; facts require no faith" myself.

#44 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 01:19 AM:

Further story thoughts...I'm very sleepy, but have we perhaps replaced "anointing the Messiah" with "Mary Sue"? Isn't that, well, a bit immature? Adults chose kings, or at least acknowledge their kingship. It's teenagers who fantasize about being Mary Sue.

Ah, well, let's see if I still think that tomorrow.

#45 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 03:29 AM:

I wonder if Obama could do something with the song "Leader of the Pack"?

#46 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 04:00 AM:

xeger @ 39: You're going to have to unpack that a bit before I'm going to be able to tell whether or not I agree with you.

Randolph @ 42: "I'm not even sure that is true--look how she treated her pregnant daughter."

Well, she didn't disown her or publically beat her, so it's possible that Palin has actually been very loving and supportive. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. So take "herself and her genetic kin" as an outside estimate of her empathy.

Lee @ 43: "It occurs to me that one possible point of fact-based attack is, "McCain is lying to you, and he's doing it because he thinks you're dumb enough to buy it.""

See, that's the simple, straight-forward kind of confrontation that would cause McCain's campaign to collapse like a third-grader's toothpick sculpture. He only does as well as he does because the entire media has bought into this idea that it isn't the reality that matters, just the perception of it. So McCain throws a blatantly manufactured hissy fit about how Obama called Palin McCain's policies a pig in lipstick and the media just sits around discussing whether the perception of sexism will hurt Obama. Double you tee eff! If the media just said, "Actually, it's pretty obvious that Obama was referring to McCain's policies, and has been using this perfectly innocuous, widely-known term since long before Palin entered the race," (without even getting into what a whiny baby it makes McCain out to be) it would be a net loss for McCain. But no: creationism deserves to be taught in schools "to teach the debate," teaching kids nothing about sex is held to be as good as teaching them something, and "some Democrats claim" that Palin is lying her ass off about the Bridge to Nowhere.

#47 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 04:27 AM:

ABCNews last night, to their credit, did cover the "lipstick on a pig" non-scandal as their leadoff story. They pointed out when Obama said it and how fast (within an hour) McCain's staff had an online ad running about it. They then ran Obama's explanation about the phrase, pointed out nowhere in the speech did Obama mention Palin, and then ran quotes of McCain using the exact same phrase three times when talking about Clinton's policies.

Not that any of that will matter to those thinking Obama was beating up on "cute little just-like-me Sarah Palin"; to them he was making fun of her, and that's just not fair.

I think he should begin mocking both McCain AND Palin, throw every misstatement of their's back in their faces, and let them get a taste of their own medicine.

#48 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Quote factcheck.org above: the Obama campaign insists that no researchers have been sent to Alaska

Why not?!

#49 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Yeah, that still looks pretty true; it's like some fraction of the public has turned back into teenagers with a crush. Me...

When I first heard of Sarah Palin, my attitude was, "Oh, that's kind of cool." As the information began to roll in it was, "Oh, wow, she's really awful." Now it's, "WtF? Why does anyone care about her?" Interlarded, mind you, with "She's Nehemiah Scudder in a dress. Have the Republicans gone crazy?"

...so, is Osama bin Laden Nehemiah Scudder in a turban?

Here's to freedom and democracy, on this day of sad memory!

#50 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 11:23 AM:

I'm just another infrequent commenter that has a problem with xeger@39.

The way I remember it, reality is whatever still exists even when you refuse to believe in it. I'm thinking of the scene in Aguirre the Wrath of God where, late in the trip, one of the conquistadors is trying to deny that they're in the fix they're in, saying "There is no river, there is no raft." Then an arrow suddenly pierces his leg, and he says, "There is no arrow." He dies soon enough. Obviously faith does not save him.

Or is there a level of sarcasm I'm missing?

#51 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Randolf @#44

I feel a bit silly admitting this, but I'm not even entirely sure sure what "anointing the messiah" means. From context I guess that it means the person thinks they're marvelous and sacred? Am I close?

Mary Sue resonates with me more, but maybe that's because I've been reading Making Light for so long. To me, "Mary Sue" implies a lot of things. A Mary Sue is someone who thinks they are (or is portrayed as): Pretty, "smart", never wrong, good at everything and usually unfairly maligned by some evil group. Also, anyone who dislikes her is either evil or will change their minds and apologize for being so stupid and mean.

I assume anointing the messiah doesn't have connotations with quite some much baggage, but I really think the Mary Sue comparison is particularly apt when it comes to Palin.

#52 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Seth Gordon @48:

It could be a simple as the Obama campaign already having volunteers in the area that can do the research.

Because Princess Pig has held public office, a lot of her deeds will have been placed on the public record...

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 12:00 PM:

I think what xeger is saying is that relying on 'facts and reason' requires believing that facts and reason are a bigger influence on voters than all those appeals to emotions and instinct. Which is apparently (reviewing the last couple of decades) not reliable.

The caller from the Obama campaign I talked to last night said they're getting a lot of people telling them that he has to hit harder, go after McCain, get ahead of him and not just react to stuff.

#54 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Lee @ 43: Granted, I don't post here much at all, but have been lurking for a while. xeger's handle didn't ring a bell for me, and reading what he posted did literally give me a "wait WHAT?" moment. It's possible he meant it to be sarcastic, I guess? But if so it wasn't showing it to my reading, and I took it as a drive-by. If he's regular here, I'd also appreciate an unpacking of his thinking?

I'd think more people here would be vehemently comfortable with "Well, this is what I think; does that sound right / am I missing anything?", or making the sarcasm in "my way is CLEARLY right" Obvious...

--Dave

#55 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 12:18 PM:

Lee @43: Xeger's comment looks, to me at least, like one hell of a false equivalency: he/she seems to saying that fact and reason are just as much matters of faith as religion or political ideology. This is, of course, an absurd thing to say.

Is there another meaning to those words that I, and David @41 apparently, just aren't getting? Sarcasm that I'm missing? You defended Xeger against David, but you didn't explain what you thought s/he was talking about. I don't comment here much either (too intimidated, most of the time!), but I would like to know.

#56 ::: Rulial ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 12:25 PM:

lorax @ 34: I haven't read anything by Lakoff, but I have heard him speak, and I would agree that narrative is important. (It is, after all, the traditional way to communicate values.) But I think there are a lot of low-information voters who have already adopted the progressive narrative but just don't know what the candidates really stand for.

#57 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 12:49 PM:

#43 Lee

heresiarch, #38: It occurs to me that one possible point of fact-based attack is, "McCain is lying to you, and he's doing it because he thinks you're dumb enough to buy it." That's where places like factcheck.org could be worth their weight in gold-pressed latinum.

I think that it would be better to position as,
"Senator McCain wants you to believe....but Sen. McCain is not telling you the truth. The truth is..." instead of said liar-liar-pants-on-fire! which immediately sets up a confrontational adversarial relationship. The people may have been believing McCain... implying that they have accepted McCain's lies as truth comes off as saying that they are wrong, not just McCain.... If the object is to isolate McCain and Palin and persuade people to not support or drop support of McCain/Palin and one of vote for Obama, vote for a third party, or not vote, then one needs to try to avoid alienating the person one wants to non-support McCain/Palin, and instead make them feel GOOD and/or righteous about non-supporting McCain/Palin, instead of defensive and foolish if trying to persuade them that they have been making wrong choices or choices other people are berating them for.

#58 ::: ZippySpincycle ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 01:07 PM:

It just occurred to me how much The Current Silliness makes me miss George Carlin. Can you imagine the fun he'd have with this?

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 01:29 PM:

I thought that xeger was questioning the idea that the voting public cares about facts. That is an article of faith, and it may not be correct.

#60 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Leah Miller, #51: It goes back to an earlier thread, when I was writing (to many objections) that I thought many of us were treating Obama like he was a king chosen by god (messiah) and that I didn't trust that impulse. I still don't. I can add to my list of reasons that that type of support is fickle. It's still adult choice, however. It seems like Palin's supporters have turned back into teenagers, and I trust that still less.

abi, #59: see. I think the voting public does care about facts, or thinks it does, but the public idea of "the facts" includes some pretty strange things, and isn't helped by the saturation of our environment with propaganda.

#61 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 02:08 PM:

#45: The Capitol Steps have already done it with "A Leader Named Barack." This isn't to say that Obama couldn't make his own version.

I realize that the notion that the media hews to their narrative regardless of ground truth may be self-validating. However, NPR had a story on "Morning Edition" that basically repeated McCain's slander then said that Obama wasn't responding to it except to say that he believes that the truth will win out. (It was filled with quotes from Obama supporters who want him to slam McCain.)

My problem with this is that it seems to me that the Obama campaign is responding to these attacks. They're rebutting. They're pointing them out for the lies that they are. What they aren't doing is telling similar sized whoppers in return. Is that what they mean when they say that he's not responding?

[Of course, if the Obama campaign ever did that, he'd be slammed hard even though McCain is currently getting a pass. I guess strictly speaking, I don't know that. Maybe NPR is equal opportunity and will repeat everyone's lies unchallenged. I'd rather they serve an actual news function when it comes to politics though.]

#62 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 03:31 PM:

Heresiarch at 38

I'm wary of Lakovian arguments that the only way to beat the Republicans is to abandon making arguments based on fact and reason. Once we give that up in favor of tribal appeals and kneejerk politics, how are we different from the Republicans?

We're different because we're right. We know what we're talking about. The primary difference between the Democrats and Republicans isn't their campaigning style; it is their policies. We get the rational vote already, no reason to make ads to appeal to it. What we need is for the people who so desperately need us to vote for us, and that's a tricky task. I think we can campaign on emotions without being a full-scale smear machine like the Republicans, but I don't think that we can afford to be prissy about how we run the campaign.

#63 ::: Bronwyn Boltwood ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 05:03 PM:

The pedophile ads are NOT the nastiest weapons in the Republican arsenal, if this article is correct. It states that the GOP in Macomb County Michigan plans to challenge the eligibility of voters whose houses have been foreclosed upon.

The attack ads are foul, but their intent is to convert voters, which is an allowable strategy. This voter-challenge idea looks to me like an attempt to disenfranchise the poor and unfortunate because they might vote Democratic. In other words, the Republicans -- at least in Michigan -- are planning to unstuff ballot boxes by keeping the potentially-Democratic votes from being cast in the first place. I'm a Canadian and don't know the details of the American electoral process, but I don't see how this can be anything but a subversion of it, in spirit if not in letter.

Obama's campaign needs to find out more about this, and advertise, heavily, what the Republicans are doing, and what it means in terms of their respect for the democratic process and the Constitution. If America won't get into a state of righteous indignation over the Republicans trying to defraud the public of its constitutional right to vote, the cornerstone of the nation, the right that their founding fathers fought and died for, I don't know what it will take. Obama also needs to educate voters on how to counter this ambush at the polling booth, so that nobody gets pressured into not voting, regardless of party affiliation.

Happily for me, I live in Canada, where we record votes on paper and humans count them in plain sight.

Am I the only one who feels like Nehemiah Scudder will be showing up soon?

#64 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 05:07 PM:

heresiarch @38:

I'm wary of Lakovian arguments that the only way to beat the Republicans is to abandon making arguments based on fact and reason. Once we give that up in favor of tribal appeals and kneejerk politics, how are we different from the Republicans? No--the argument that liberals need to be making in an emotional, impassioned way is that the facts matter, and that understanding the facts is important.

Without meaning to go too far down the path of being a Lakoff apologist (I got enough of that as his TA for half a dozen classes), I don't see him calling for progressives to abandon arguments based on facts and reason, but rather to understand the importance of presenting facts and reason in a way that takes into account the importance of how they are presented.

Consider an analogy with the difference between showing up at a job interview with a stellar resume but wearing ratty jeans and food-stained sweatshirt vs. showing up at a job interview with a stellar resume and being dressed neatly and appropriately for the industry standard (vs. showing up at a job interview wearing the latest fashion and hoping no one will notice you have nothing of relevance in your resume).

If we could successfully make an impassioned, emotional case that convinced the electorate that facts matter and that understanding them is important, that would be -- to some extent -- just the sort of approach that Lakoff is arguing for.

#65 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Brownwyn Boltwood @63:
If America won't get into a state of righteous indignation over the Republicans trying to defraud the public of its constitutional right to vote, the cornerstone of the nation, the right that their founding fathers fought and died for, I don't know what it will take.

As ... ... as this may sound at first, I think it's been well known for a while that various tricks of this kind are used, without much of an outcry over it. (Ellipses used because of loss for words.)

#66 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 07:15 PM:

I don't have the time right now to get caught up, apologies if it's been covered.

I think what xeger is saying is a belief that one can use facts, and sweet reason, to convince the people who are in opposition to one's point of view can be as much an article of faith as any religious proposition.

To support this idea I offer up Fred Clark's Gov. Palin and the Fib From Outer Space, where he shows that people who can't believe what they are saying, will persist in saying it, and do their best to get others to act as if they believe it too.

#67 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 08:28 PM:

re #20 : Serge
and one of my relatives asked "Doesn't that make you stupid?" because she thought I had had my testicles removed.

I think Peter Abelard might have disagreed with that idea as well.

#68 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Yeah, I got the Terry Karney interpretation of xeger's comment (and the irony inherent in the last of his comments - I'm sure he believed we all would work out that he didn't actually believe what he was saying; the sine qua non of irony. I do realize that that requires his intelligent audience to assume intelligence in what looks like a drive-by in a political thread, which may be a bit naive) rather than the David DeLaney one.

Perhaps requoting it as

"Pushing 'fact and reason' as the be all and end all" is as much an obsessive faith-based tactic...

would have made it more clear.

The belief that "the truth will out", and that all we have to do is appeal to reason and show the facts and that the scales will fall from The Voters' eyes - which has clearly not been sufficient in recent memory, and there's no signs of it changing by November - is faith. That the truth will out, eventually - or that "reality is what exists even when you don't believe in it", that's not faith; assuming that enough people care, or are willing to think, or even are able to change their first impression when confronted with the facts, never mind willing to try, is. And the facts seem to be against that one.

#69 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 37: I intend to vote for the lesser of two antichrists.

Several, re anointing a messiah: I recall a Terry Pratchett line that has been quoted here before: "Always remember that the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading. People like a show."

#71 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 12:11 AM:

When Palin was first announced as McCain's running mate, I totally laughed. I admit it. I thought, "Ha! They've really shot themselves in the collective foot!" Now, after listening to the people at work enthuse about her, and watching undecideds start to swing that way, I'm actually nervous.

This following is cut-and-pasted from my own brother's blog, and all I can think is....AAAACCCK!

"I suddenly find myself in the position of actually considering voting for a candidate that I pretty much loathe.

The more I learn of Sarah Palin, the more I find myself willing to vote for that rotten SOB McCain.

I look at a map of Alaska, and two things immediately catch my attention: Russia, on the left side of the map; and Canada on the right. Alaska doesn't have common borders with any other US state. None.

While not exactly widely disseminated, it is no secret that the governors of border states do a lot of diplomatic and international work. The Texas SecState has an entire section titled: Texas Border and Mexican Affairs; the California Governors Office runs Trade Missions in multiple foreign nations, as does the Arizona Dept of Commerce International Business section.

And both Texas and California have only one international border.

All of Alaska's borders are international.

The Alaska Executive branch has an office called, "The Governor's Office of International Trade". Right now, I can't get the link to open, but I'm relatively sure that this office is primarily tasked with doing things ... well ... internationally.

*scratch, scratch*

I may be a bit off, but seems to me that Governor Palin has a couple of years of Executive Branch International experience under her belt. Not as much as I'd like, true, but a sight more than some other folks.

On top of all that, Governor Palin has cut government spending in Alaska -- not as much as I'd like, but still -- and she hunts (moose!), fishes, and has worked in the private sector.

Plus, she (allegedly) seems to have had an artistic elbow as point guard and captain of her schools State champion basketball team. (The whole sinking-the-critical-free-throw-in-the-last-seconds-of-the-championship-game-on-a-fractured-ankle just kind of being icing on the cake.)

*sigh*

Yes, this is someone I can vote for."

Dudes, Thanksgiving is gonna suuuuck.

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Oceans don't count as international borders?

Ahnold has done international marketing trips while he's been governor, and so have some of the CA mayors. I doubt that Sarah has; I suspect she'd have done a really bad job if she had.

#73 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 12:23 AM:

Lydy Nickerson @ 62: "We're different because we're right. We know what we're talking about."

Funny--conservatives think the same thing. Of course, they recognize that foolish, ignorant everyday folk are too uneducated to understand, so they feel no compunction about telling voters what they want to hear, even if it has nothing to do with what conservatives actually believe.

That's exactly why I'm so wary of the idea that facts can be anything other than the center and foundation of our politics. There are plenty of wrong, wrong, wrong people who are absolutely convinced that they are right. How do we know that we aren't them? The only way we can be sure is by taking a reality check--do our arguments make sense to other people?

Heather Rose Jones @ 64: "I don't see [Lakoff] calling for progressives to abandon arguments based on facts and reason, but rather to understand the importance of presenting facts and reason in a way that takes into account the importance of how they are presented."

I don't disagree that paying attention to how a message is presented is important--it obviously is. Your job applicant metaphor is right on. However, I don't believe that the Democrats' problem is that they rely on facts and evidence alone to convince people, ignoring the importance of rhetoric and narrative. The problem is that we don't even try to convince the voters of anything at all. It's as if you didn't even go to the interview, convinced that the flashy dresser already had it locked up.

The Democratic party pays plenty of attention to the emotional aspects of politics. Take the Clark fiasco, where he did the stereotypical liberal thing and pointed out that being shot down doesn't qualify McCain for the presidency. So far, the tone-deaf liberal theory holds strong--but then you'd expect that Obama would come out saying, yeah, Clark is right, what're you all getting so upset about? Instead Obama disowned Clark, utterly divorcing himself from Clark's factually accurate message. Obama was perfectly aware of how the right wing was going to spin it, and was so terrified that he conceded the battle before it had begun.

This is what defines the Democratic party: not a blindness towards the importance of emotional appeals or an overreliance on statistics, but an unwillingness to make any argument at all, under anything but the most favorable of circumstances. (That's what the statistics obsession is: an attempt to circumvent the argument by showing people that they already agree with us.) The truth is, the classic Democratic approach of making passionate arguments firmly grounded in facts and reason is incredibly effective. Al Gore proved that in 2006 when he convinced the country of the truth of global warming with nothing more than two hours and a slide show. Think about that--Al Gore, the posterchild for wooden, emotionless, overly-intellectual liberalism, convinced millions of Americans with his passion and eloquence. Liberals don't need anyone to teach them how to be passionate, or how to lace their speeches with emotional resonance--they already know how. They just need the confidence to do it.

#74 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 12:37 AM:

heresiarch #73:

Why do you suppose the same guy could be so wooden when running for president in 2000, and so passionate in 2006 when advocating for a cause he deeply believes in? I'm guessing there were a whole lot fewer constraints on him in 2006, and that his style in 2000 was the result of attempting to keep too many diverse interests happy with everything he said.

This seems like it shows through most clearly in the debates. Very smart people who are also quite well prepared sound wooden, or confused, or whatever. I'm pretty sure the reason is that they're trying to answer while steering clear of all the ways they could either offend an important interest group, or create a good quote for the other guy's attack ads.

#75 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 01:15 AM:

J Austin, #71: those are the talking points aimed at the wingnuts: I think the NRA/ILA is distributing them. Yes, that very troublesome Canadian border. Oh, and watch out for the invasion across the Bering Straits. The mayor of Boise, Idaho has more executive experience than Sarah Palin, mostly-absent governor of a state where the lege meets three months out of the year, in summer. Sheesh. But those points are aimed at people who are already not thinking.

heresiarch, #73: the Democratic Party has the problem of being convincing while being medium-evil. The Republicans, being run by the spawn of hell, can simply be evil. (And, no, I don't mean that literally. But the real rant is several paragraphs and both grim and boring.) It also helps that the media gave the R's a free ride for about 15 years. I suspect they're regretting it now, but it's a bit late.

#76 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Oh, and here we have a quote from Palin's speech, "And you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska."

Looking at the map, I'm damned if I know where. Anyone know?

#77 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 01:50 AM:

Oh, the Diomede Islands. Talk about obscure and deceptive claims.

#78 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 01:58 AM:

Oh, the Diomede Islands. Talk about obscure and deceptive claims--they are something like 1,000 miles from Anchorage, and Big Diomede Island doesn't even show up on Google Maps, though it is on their satellite imagery. Whatever else she is, she's a brilliant liar.

#79 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 04:34 AM:

Randolph, here's a nice little response to that.

#80 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 05:16 AM:

I promised I wasn't going to say "They'll Kill Us All"...

...but seeing this (link below), I'm starting to think: Where is the best place to build a fallout shelter for my family, where do I store all the food -- and will the living envy the dead?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/11/sarah-palins-charlie-gibs_n_125772.html

#81 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 09:17 AM:

I saw the ABCNews part of Gibson's interview with Palin, and she came across as an ill-prepared nutcase. On some questions it was clear she'd memorized the stock McCain party line; on others she floundered and sputtered and just repeated what she said first, as if that made it make more sense.

But, using "you can see Russia from Alaska" as an example of her foreign policy experience was her true self coming out; she's apparently the type that thinks it's better to say something stupid rather than admit your ignorance.

Her comments about Ukraine and Georgia were chilling examples too; apparently her rule for inclusion into NATO was that they have a democratic government, and when asked about whether she'd support going to war to protect them, said "well of course; that's what the treaty means".

On her "God's Will" comment made about war in Iraq, she tried to backtrack and say "no one knows God's Will", but Gibson wasn't having any of that. She eventually just said something incomprehensible and Gibson gave up on getting anything pertinent from her on that subject.

"Moose in the headlights" sounds about right; if she can't look good on a prepared interview where the questions aren't even that hard, watching her in an unscripted debate is going to be entertaining indeed.

#82 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 09:42 AM:

j austin (#71): You might ask "if she's so concerned about foreign affairs, why didn't she even have a passport before 2007?"

(By the time I'm the age she was when she got her first passport, it'll be about time for me to renew mine again.)

#83 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 10:07 AM:

I don't think the, er, market segment who are inclined to like Palin are going to be bothered by this stuff much.

New Lakoff piece here.

#84 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 11:13 AM:

I think Lakoff has the right of it.

Oh, and Venezuela and Bolivia have cut off diplomatic relations with the USA and concluded a deal of some sort with Russia. I suspect they will have about as much good of it as Georgia had out of its relations with the USA.

Sigh.

#85 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 11:41 AM:

John L @ 81: I just posted this link on another thread, but it's also appropriate here, given your mention of Palin's alleged foreign policy experience:

Best Response To Palin, Ever

#86 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Randolf #84:

I hadn't heard of Bolivia getting especially involved with Russia, just Venezuela, and I think that may have been going on for awhile now, at least in terms of buying Russian military equipment and such. Chavez would probably like some US invasion insurance. I think the situation in Bolivia is pretty different, with an internal conflict between different regions threatening to split up the country or undermine the existing government. But I'd love to hear from someone who understands the situation better--I'm just listening to BBC news podcasts that cover this every now and then.

#87 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 12:39 PM:

That's a great link, Summer Storms. Almost one of the greatest links posted here ever! :P

#88 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 02:05 PM:

#82, Christopher Davis: You might ask "if she's so concerned about foreign affairs, why didn't she even have a passport before 2007?"

Do you happen to have a link/reference for this?

And while I can't explain why she didn't have a passport before then, I can almost certainly explain why she got one at that time - January 2007 is when the new requirements kicked in requiring any air travellers between Canada and the US to have passports. As she is fond of pointing out, Alaska is on an international border.

#89 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 02:55 PM:

debcha (#88): from an article in the August 30, 2008 New York Times: "Ms. Palin appears to have traveled very little outside the United States. In July 2007, she had to get a passport before she visited members of the Alaska National Guard stationed in Kuwait, according to her deputy communications director, Sharon Leighow."

#90 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 04:04 PM:

Palin herself admitted she hadn't traveled outside the country other than Canada before going to Kuwait, and had never met any foreign leader.

But, her state's within sight of Russia! That has to count for something! She's the CinC of the Alaska National Guard! That's an executive leadership position!

GMAFB, please. My state's governor has more "executive experience" of that type than she does, and he's hardly VP material.

Her inability to form coherent sentences that frame her views on various positions, her fumbling around for something making sense when asked a question she knew would be asked, etc, all tell me that McCain had NO CLUE how much an empty suit she truly was when he chose her. IMO that tells me all I need to know about his decision making processes.

#91 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 04:11 PM:

I don't believe Palin is an "empty suit." What she is is a smart, talented person of very limited imagination and empathy, like W. Bush. Because of this I believe she's very, very, very dangerous.

#92 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Everyone in my family has more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin.

I have an unusually international family; my little sister was born in France, I've lived in Japan, my little sisters are in college in Montreal and party in southeast Asia, my stepfather works in India, China, and Singapore, and all us kids hit every country in western Europe on summer vacation road trips. (We're not obscenely wealthy, just frequently relocated.)

Nevertheless: it's terrifying to me that every member of my family has more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin.

(Yes, I'm in the Facebook group.)

#93 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 04:38 PM:

Hell, I've never been out of the US and I'm more informed on foreign policy than she is. According to ABCNews, she's walking around with briefing notebooks and flash cards and being instructed by former Bush policy officials so that they can make sure she says the right things over the next few weeks.

What's her own viewpoints on issues? Who the hell knows? All we're going to hear from now on is what she's told to say.

#94 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 05:23 PM:

If only someone could get at her flash cards, make a few changes...

"We're dumber than squirrels. We hear voices and do what they command. I have broccoli in my socks." -- Pointy-Haired Boss reading from a script

#95 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 06:08 PM:

John L #93:

On one hand, this is kind of unnerving. On the other, if she's going to end up in the job, I wish she could spend the next few months doing nothing else but trying to study up on what she'll need to know.

One important thing to recognize here: nobody can be an expert in everything they need to know to be president. Indeed, in my experience, as you get up above middle-management, you typically see more and more people who have scary gaps in their knowledge. I see this in my work--my boss is an unusually smart and clued in guy who gets the gist of most everything technical we do, but his boss is much fuzzier on details, and *his* boss probably knows nothing much more than buzzwords about what we do. That's not because they're stupid people, or unqualified, it's because they're managing genuine experts in too many different fields to fully understand everything. Worse, management takes up a lot of time and energy, especially in a large organization. Even if you'd like to keep up with the latest interesting research done by the crypto guys, or the statistical modeling guys, or the computer forensics guys, or whatever, you just don't have time--you've got to attend eight meetings this week, work out a departmental budget, and figure out what to do with a couple problems that have cropped up. At the presidential level, this is entirely unmanageable.

Anyway, the best you can hope for is that the president (and her subordinates) will have some independent experience and access to ideas, to help her evaluate her experts' advice. I'd guess that Palin will be able to do that pretty well in energy policy, for example, as she appears to have some personal knowledge of that, a long time interest in it, etc. But in foreign policy, I am pretty skeptical that she will be in a position to do that. She can and should study up, but book learning isn't the same as experience, and studying for a few months isn't the same as following something for many years.

Contrast this with Joe Biden or John McCain--both these guys have a lot of experience dealing with foreign affairs, almost certainly have knowledgeable people they know personally, who they can call and ask for a second opinion when their advisors seem to be wrong. They likely have the experiences and background to notice places where their advisors' ideas seem to conflict with reality. In other areas, both men will likely be captives of their advisors, but probably not in foreign policy.

Anyway, I expect that both Palin and Obama will be captives of their advisors on foreign policy, because they simply won't have the personal experience, connections, or long study and thought necessary to have developed very good BS detectors. For those two, I judge their likely foreign policy decisions more on what I think their advisors will tell them to do than on what their ideas are. On that score, for me, Obama wins over Palin, because Palin is studying with the folks who got us into the current mess we're in.

#96 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Ooh! I'm in the facebook group too! And one of the women I went to high school with just posted an update "Why so much hate for Sarah Palin? Is it because she has VALUES?" I stopped at two comments because I didn't want to start a flamewar on facebook, but she's gotten lots of agreement over there.

#97 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 09:37 PM:

EClaire, #96: um, it's 'cause her values are fanatical and insane?

Problem is, the radical right's whipped up huge amounts of fear and hatred. There's lots of people who imagine they would like to be the instruments of righteous wrath. The problem most of them have is that they're sane, have normal human empathy, and are a bit scared. Palin doesn't seem troubled by those limitations. So she's the lightning rod.

#98 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 10:15 PM:

EClaire: I hate that locution. As if, because I don't think, x,y, and z, aren't the best thing since sliced bread I have no values.

My distaste for McCain (and Palin) isn't because they have values, it's because I happen to think the values they have are terrible, and un-American, and not the sort of thing I want my appointed leaders putting into practice.

#99 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2008, 11:06 PM:

EClaire #96: I stopped at two comments because I didn't want to start a flamewar on facebook, but she's gotten lots of agreement over there.

What's wrong with Speaking Truth To Facebook? Would you get banned for it?

#100 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 12:22 AM:

EClair, #96: one thing a friend pointed out: in US radical religious movements, it's often the women who are seen as the guardians of virtue. So that seems to be a big part of the support of Palin.

#101 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 01:15 AM:

heresiarch @ 73:
That's exactly why I'm so wary of the idea that facts can be anything other than the center and foundation of our politics. There are plenty of wrong, wrong, wrong people who are absolutely convinced that they are right. How do we know that we aren't them? The only way we can be sure is by taking a reality check--do our arguments make sense to other people?

In the end, you have to make the decision for yourself as to whether you are right or wrong. For the purposes of conviction, it's darn helpful to use reason and rationality. But it's no good for the purpose of campaigning. For campaigning, you need a righteous fire capable of confronting your opponent and saying, "You're wrong." The way campaigns are run, you need more of this fire, the willingness to do shortcuts and make it easy on people. The reason and debate can and should happen, but it's not part of the campaign. It's how we convince ourselves that we need to campaign. It's part of deciding policy. We're right. We should be glad of that. We should be certain. Nevermind the other guy says he's right, what does he know? Our opinion is simply better than his. We need to campaign like that. One of the things that the Republicans have is that sense of triumphalism. We need that. Barack Obama is good at that. It's great.

#102 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 01:55 AM:

It occurs to me that it is the inside-out version of the messianic tendency of US politics that's driving Palin's supporters. Interestingly, it is women in the intensely patriarchal conservative churches doing a lot of the work here--Palin herself is one of them. Well...it explains why they're so fact-resistant. But the problem of dealing with it...I will think about...tomorrow. Yawn!

#103 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 05:29 AM:

Well, my response was that we disliked Palin because so much of she said was demonstrably false, and when she replied that that was rich coming from an Obama fan, and that he was going to tax us into the next Great Depression ... I realized this was a fight I'm unlikely to win. I did try to make a case for universal health care, citing my $2500 in medical bills for the sproglet's birth, despite being well insured. Her response... "I hate to sound ugly, you made the decision to get pregnant and have the baby and why should the government pay for your medical bills? By the way, the cost to have a baby is far more than $2500. You're lucky that's all you had to pay."

I plan an email, with a calm, reasoned response, touching on health care, McCain's support for torture, and bringing up the strengths that Biden brings to the Obama ticket. I really want to ask what strengths she thinks Palin has. Besides her "VALUES", obviously. I wouldn't get banned for posting such thoughts on her main page, but I'm hoping that taking it to a more private forum might make her less defensive, and more likely to hear me out.

I actually sent out a text message to a couple of people, asking them to distract me because "Oh noes! Someone is wrong on the internet!" That got me a report on Ike from Morgan City, LA. Distracting, but not particularly what I had in mind.

#104 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 06:51 AM:

Ok. Email written, and inspired by Terry, I closed with this: I value peace, and prosperity, and diversity, and autonomy, and knowledge, and family. They may not be the values that Palin holds, but they're not held any less fiercely because I'm not being lectured on them weekly.

It won't get through, and I could have touched on a hundred other issues, but at least I can feel I didn't just stand by.

#105 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 08:09 AM:

It sounds to me like convincing that person in email is less likely than "omg, an email stalker! call police, get restraining order!!!1111!1" or "what, you 'fraid to expose yer views to public scrutiny?" heh. Ah, well....

#106 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Palin's "narrative" reminds me of the old family-afternoon Disney movies: "The President Who Wore Hockey Skates" kind of thing. Freaky Friday mashed up with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with a dash of The Simpsons. A group of amiable losers succeed through spunkiness and luck, despite their lack of relevant ability, against a bunch of smarter and more talented antagonists.

Or, to change genres... I gather that a lot of guys kind of like seeing Ron Jeremy in porn movies, precisely because he's an ordinary schlub instead of a stud. It's easier to imagine oneself in his place, to think "that could be me!", to bond with him. Sarah Palin is the Ron Jeremy of the Presidential race.

#107 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Eclaire: re Facebook

Years of dealing with people who are really wrong on the internet lead me to think your present conversant is unsuadable. Those same years convinced me you can still persuade the other people who might be reading (this also works in public... it was from people who overheard arguments in bars and came to talk to me which made this plain).

So I'd post the numbers (and graphics) comparing the Obama and McCain plans. I'd point out that progessive tax rates mean 35 percent isn't really. I mention that cutting taxes to the middle classes is better for the counry than cutting taxes on those who can afford to pay for them (it's a framing issue... can't mention the poor; they deserve their lot, and will be always with us [yes, I'm bitter on this aspect of the subject] and the middle classes are what most people claim to be. John McCain, if pressed will manage to claim to be middle class).

What you want to do (and forgive my lecturing) is appear passionate, reasonable and correct.

They all matter, but so too does the correct matters least, and the reasonable only becomes important if you are passionate. If the order is reversed, they remember a geek, if reason comes before they notice the passion your are seen as weak; and more ignorable.

If you don't act reasonable you are a left-wing fruitcake... even whey they might actually agree with your positions.

Good luck with the good fight.

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 12:10 PM:

I was reading a comment elsewhere that part of the problem is so many people want to elect a president who is 'like them', an 'ordinary person'.

I think if you asked them if they would want to be president, they'd probably say that they couldn't do the job, it's too hard for them.
The next question after that ought to be 'then why are you voting for someone just like you? Shouldn't you be voting for someone who is better at the job than you? More experienced, better educated?
You're not going to be invited to the White House for beer and hotdogs, so that shouldn't be your standard for a candidate.'

#109 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Although Ron Jeremy has extensive First Amendment Warrior credentials, he has been on record as supporting various Democrat candidates, so would likely not be an acceptable replacement for Palin to the Republican smoke-filled room types, as far as I know.

As for cartoon characters, either Marge Simpson or Lois Griffin would be better for America than Sarah Palin as vice president.

#110 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 12:40 PM:

EClaire, #103, #104: Hmmm, wow, Christian charity. It must take some impressive mental gyrations to rationalize as Christian things that Jesus explicitly preached against. In any event, quotes about "the love of money" and needles and camels eyes seem applicable.

This is all band-aids, though, until someone figures a way to discredit Palin. Seems to me she could be attacked on "unworthiness"--it's amazing how many of these people think they are qualified not just to be President, but to sit in god's judgment seat--and on getting above herself, perhaps best delivered by Hilary Clinton? Ick, but if it'll work, good. If Sarah Palin can be made to lose her temper in public it'll probably be all over--she apparently has a ferocious temper and that's entirely incompatible with the "good wife and mother" image she's projecting.

#111 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 03:56 PM:

The current U.S. presidential campaign nastiness is part of a long, deep American political tradition, stretching back more than two centuries. For a notable early example, one might find it interesting to contemplate the nature of the festivities which accompanied Jefferson v. Adams in 1800.

Then, as now, the charges actually flung by the candidates themselves seldom got much worse than the traditional "My opponent is a knowing servant of corrupt [foreign] / [mercantile] interests, whose malign influences under his administration would inevitably destroy the institutions which make our nation great, and quickly reduce our noble citizens to penury and bondage." [1]

However, each candidate’s surrogates and supporters routinely spouted a somewhat broader range of more explicit charges, suggesting for example that "______'s election would bring our fields and factories directly to weed-choked ruin, and our people to starvation and despair." (Rovian levels of sweetness and light are not a unique, nor new, contribution to American presidential politics.)

In the 17th century analog to "drive-by" blog postings, the most vituperative assertions tended to be made pseudonymously, in partisan local newspapers and anonymously published pamphlets. This was the level of contribution to discussion which tended to include revelations like "In their sordid recreation of worshipping the devil, ______’s followers further amuse themselves by the murder and cannibalism of innocent children, and the desecration of all that the rest of us right-thinking citizens hold sacred." From which point, things could start to get really nasty . . .

At current rates of acceleration, the movement of our national political dialogue along this traditional vector seems to be proceeding quite efficiently.

[1] All remarks paraphrased, but intended to suggest the enthusiasm of the originals.

#112 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 04:57 PM:

Randolph @110: If Sarah Palin can be made to lose her temper in public it'll probably be all over--she apparently has a ferocious temper and that's entirely incompatible with the "good wife and mother" image she's projecting.

One would hope. I read this line, and flashed on Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom. If I remember the movie correctly, when Mom was eventually caught (after committing several murders) and put on trial, she became the darling of the media (even while her family feared she would not be convicted).

I suspect that even if our MSM caught Palin in an outburst, it would 'self-censor' on grounds of taste. Hopefully, if that happens, there will be someone with a camera phone who'll put it up on YouTube.

#113 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 08:19 PM:

Maybe it's time to do some ground and pardigm shifting, for some of the commentary....

Yesterday I bought a copy of the book that came out by (no, I have no idead if he or a ghostwriters wrote it), by Sen Biden.

I think it's time to focus on the achievements of Sens Obama and Biden over the course of their adult years, and how they have worked with others for the results they've achieved--mention the results of Sen Obama's work as a community organizer--clear, quantitative results wherever possible, of what help went to people and how it improved their lives... accomplishments of his as a legislator in Ohio... and accomplishments of Sen Biden including the federal legislation dealing with trying to reduce violence against women, and imposing federal requirements for rape victims to have the government pay for DNA evidence collection and testing to have a record of the rapist's/rapists' DNA if at all possible, instead of making the victim pay if without health coverage providing it -- and compare that to Palin presiding over her hometown's REFUSAL to go along with the federal law--and Alasks then passing a law SPECIFICALLY because of the refusal town while Palin was the head of the town!

Anyway, I think that there should be positive talk of the results that Sen Obama and Biden have gotten, or tried to get through which got stomped on by the likes of Sen. McCain.... including things like votes against torture....

========

Having said that, refuting and attacking otherwise remain in order I feel.

There is a rumor, substantial enough that the Repubican Party felt obliged to mention in to try to deny it, that Gov Palin had an adulterous affair....
The tabloids went after Obama alleging an illegitimate child I think and a poverty-struck half-brother.
Sauce for the goose time. (No, I am not saying the Obama campaign should mention such rumors... but equal time should be applied for smears from smear sources... )

#114 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 10:00 PM:

Lydy Nickerson @ 101: "But it's no good for the purpose of campaigning. For campaigning, you need a righteous fire capable of confronting your opponent and saying, "You're wrong." The way campaigns are run, you need more of this fire, the willingness to do shortcuts and make it easy on people. The reason and debate can and should happen, but it's not part of the campaign."

This is not true. Making actual arguments is crucial to the success of liberalism as a whole, and of Democrats right now. Our arguments are never going to be as pat and instantly understood as theirs--they're arguing for ideas that are thousands of years old*, of course people are going to be initially more comfortable with them. Being right is our only edge. If we refuse to use that edge, if we engage purely on an emotional level, we will lose. It is always easier to convince people to hate the people they want to hate than it is to convince them to treat them well.

See, this is why I'm wary of Lakoff. It's so easy to interpret his message as being: "stop wasting your time with actual arguments, come up with something catchy!" Which is an immensely damaging thing for liberals to believe.

*And when they're not, they're intuitively persuasive. Take off-shore drilling--it seems clear that if you get more oil, prices will go down. Of course, that isn't even vaguely the case in reality (too little, too late), but that doesn't stop Republicans from lying like rugs. Whenever there's a stupidly easy but wrong case to make, they're there to make it.

EClaire @ 104: This might be a good graph to show her re: tax cuts.

#115 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 10:23 PM:

My take on Lakoff, from the POV of politics, is finding the right resonance for the arguments. It's pretty easy to find simplistic things for the general run of Republican points (taxes being lowered means people have more money; what matters more is how the change in apportionment happpens).

So the trick is how to show people Obama will lower MY/YOUR taxes more than McCain will.

And some of the frames are nasty. Accusing non-Republican/non-Real True Christians of not having values (which is done by saying the RTC/Republicans are attracting, "Values Voters" as if being against choice, anti-equal rights for minorities and the like are the only values which count) has been damned effective at marginalising me.

So that's what I'm working on.

That, and calling them on their lies. If I can make it plain they lie in some things, then the more subtle lies in other things might be questioned too.

#116 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 10:48 PM:

#114, another graph which might be as effective, originally from the Washington Post. It's clear where the big tax cuts would be with both plans, and I know which plan I prefer.

#117 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2008, 11:39 PM:

P.J., that's the one I use. I am thinking of making flyers and hanging them on the doors of every McCain yardsign I see.

#118 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2008, 01:18 AM:

P J Evans @116: Oh yeah, that's the one I had in mind! I just couldn't find it. Here's a less pixelated version.

#119 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2008, 02:11 AM:

No fucking shame

From the story:

Forum sells 'Obama Waffles' with racial stereotype
A box of Obama Waffles is seen in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008. A vendor at a conservative political forum was selling boxes of waffle mix depicting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a racial stereotype on its front and wearing Arab-like headdress on its top flap. The product was meant as political satire, said Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, two writers from Franklin, Tenn., who created the mix and sold it for $10 a box at the Values Voter Summit sponsored by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.

"Values Voters" my ass.

#120 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2008, 01:43 PM:

PJ Evans, #116: What?! My taxes are going to go up by 11.5% under Obama!

Just kidding. I'm pretty sure I don't personally know anyone whose taxes are going to go up under Obama. Which is unsurprising, given how few of them there are around (and it's not like they mingle with people like me).

On the other hand, I know quite a few people who could really use the extra $500-800 they'd get under the Obama plan, as part of the majority of taxpayers.

#121 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2008, 10:47 PM:

Alright. It's probably the postpartum depression talking, but at this point I'm ready to give up and let the wingnuts have the country. If they (well this one example) can be so anti-choice that she thinks women should be forced to vaginally deliver stillbirths and still be pro torture can there really be any hope? Now I remember why I moved away from New Orleans and central Illinois and cut all my ties to the people I went to school with. I'm going to be in Wales on election day visiting my mother-in-law. If McCain wins, I'm not sure I'm coming back. Just move up our plans to leave the country, default on the student loans keeping us here at the moment and flee.

(No, not really, but oh! It is so tempting!)

#122 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 08:26 AM:

#121: If McCain wins, we're moving to Canada.

#123 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:40 PM:

We'll be moving to the UK eventually anyway, but it's the difference between saying goodbye or good riddance as we leave.

And looking at that post now, I realize I was needlessly inflammatory, and I apologize. The combination of anger and despair doesn't do good things for my judgment.

#124 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 12:50 PM:

My taxes will go up under Obama. (The effects in those brackets aren't constant.)

My taxes will go up under McCain, too.

The difference is that Obama admits it.

#125 ::: Gabrielle ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2009, 12:45 PM:

Well, if we all haven't heard this already. McCain is full of shit. I mean, I while back, He wasn't all that bad. But, now..What happened? Seriously..

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.