Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hateful Attacks on Palin, Continued

It took about 3 seconds for people to make my point for me on hateful attacks, below. Ann Althouse is incensed--and rightfully so--about the latest round of attacks on Palin.

Read her whole post for details but the short summary is people are pushing the "she gave birth to her own grandson" meme hard and included in the attacks are blown up pictures of Palin's 16 year old daughter.

Some of these attacks come from a Kos diary. For those that don't know, Kos is not a nameless web site. It attacks millions of readers and has people like Olbermann as guest columnists.

Seriously. Palin has enough holes in her career for there to be several choices of attack if you want to go that route. Pick one of those. I can only hope these attacks backfire and thousands of votes switch to Palin because of them.

I can only read that the race is now tied from more sources and smile.

Update: Ann is continuing to post on this topic. Apparently some other posters at Kos are realizing what the reaction to their "attack the baby" story will be. So they are asking readers if they should pull the story. Althouse notes:
Nice to see that their main concern is preserving their own credibility so they can carry out other, more effective, attacks. Because the whole point of appearing to be decent and feminist is to be able to push your political agenda.
Also, in the comment, I couldn't help but laugh:
There's even a poll about whether this attempt to back slowly out of the sewer is helping -- and the vote is split 72-27."

Actually the poll question is: "Is this helping or should I delete this?"

Making a single "yes" or "no" response meaningless.

Their logical prowess remains intact!
If actions like this become more prevalent then Obama's worst handicap in the election could be the immature nature of some of his supporters.

Questionable Zogby Poll Shows Race Statistically Tied

I just wanted post a quick note about a Zogby poll that is making waves. The poll shows McCain/Palin at 47% slightly ahead of Obama/Biden at 45%. Given margin of errors, that makes the race a dead heat.

I would doubt the accuracy of this poll.

First, of all the major polling agency, Zogby has often been near the bottom in terms of accuracy. From my experience, Zogby often happens to come out with the "surprising" poll--the one no one else agrees with. In most cases, this out-of-the-norm prediction turns out to be incorrect.

Another thing that makes me question the poll results is this internal statistic, in reference to a question as to whether the choice of Palin will help or hurt:
Among Republicans, the choice was a big hit - as 87% said it would help, and just 3% said it would hurt.
Who exactly is Zogby polling--Sarah Palin's immediate family? (Actually Palin's husband isn't a registered Republican, so even that doesn't explain it.) Just a quick survey of conservative editorials and blogs show a percentage far greater than 3% that question the choice. Sure, it was a popular one--but only 3% that think it a poor once seems far too low.

The other major polls such as Rasmussen and Gallop are 3-day tracking polls, so it will take a couple of days before the data here is all post-Palin. Currently Rasmussen shows the spread at +3% for Obama, but they never showed a convention bounce for him greater than 4%. Gallup still shows Obama up by 8, but the data from this poll includes no post-Palin information.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Olbermann and Matthews on Obama

Bill Maher is getting a lot of press commenting in his typical over the top way about the obvious bias the two MSNBC anchors Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann have towards Obama. I don't particularly care for Maher, so I won't repeat those comments here. But this exchange between Olbermann and Matthews is quote-worthy for all the wrong reasons:
Chris Matthews shook the proverbial fist at this detractors as he delivered praise for Barack Obama's acceptance speech during MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, earning loud applause from the audience gathered at the channel's outdoor location.

Leading into the Matthews outburst, Keith Olbermann oozed: "For 42 minutes not a sour note and spellbinding throughout in way usually reserved for the creations of fiction. An extraordinary political statement....I'd love to find something to criticize about it. You got anything?"

Matthews: "No. You know I've been criticized for saying he inspires me and to hell with my critics!"
What can you say really? This is media bias gone so far that they admit to the bias while exhibiting it and don't care. It reminds me of that scene from Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne confronts mob boss Falcone.
Bruce Wayne: I came to show you that not everyone in Gotham's afraid of you.
Falcone: Only those who know me, kid. Look around you. You'll see two councilmen...a union official...couple off-duty cops...and a judge. I wouldn't have a second's hesitation of blowing your head off in front of them. Now, that's power you can't buy. That's the power of fear.
To reach the point of arrogance where a leading news anchor could say, "I know I'm not suppose to show bias...but the hell with that!" is remarkable. And sad.

Offensive Attacks on Palin, Addendum

In my previous post I talked about how offensive attacks on Palin could backfire as they could shock people into supporting her. But I realized I made a mistake in my attempt to describe the internet phenomenon of over-the-top comments because no one really knows who you are. The mistake was that I cleaned up my language. I took the time not to be offensive and used clauses like "When this mother reads comments ridiculing Palin because she is a mother..." without actually using the offensive terms.

Even the quote I included from a blog where the f-bomb--no wait, where fuck--is commonplace was sanitized by the original author:
She’s been on the ticket for two seconds and already the Obamabots are saying she “looks like a porn star,” they’re making rude remarks about her childbearing, they’re ridiculing her intelligence.
Note she says "rude remarks" but doesn't give examples. She says "ridiculing her intelligence" but doesn't say how. It is hard to understand the shock value in these comments and the impact it might have without seeing them.

To try to give an example, I will return to If a story gets posted about a woman have a huge number of children, people often make fun of it. Because it is the internet, they don't hold back and say, "I question the decision to have so many children." Instead they post a picture like the following:

In the context of Fark, that's funny. Imagine the difference though if somebody were to photoshop a picture of Sarah Palin's family in the center and post it in comments in a major newspaper. Suddenly funny goes to offensive and offensive will push people to support the target of the attack.

Ed Morrissey has a post on some of the more desperate attacks on Palin. One of these attacks is:
Sarah Palin wasn’t REALLY pregnant — it’s her daughter’s child.
To which Ed comments:
If this is what the opposition comes down to, McCain made the wisest possible choice, and in the process exposed the opposition in a way that could never have been possible with any other running mate.
It definitely will be interesting as the campaigns heat up. Attack Palin too hard and be seen as sexist. Attack her too softly and have Hilary supporters wondering why Palin doesn't get the same treatment as Hilary did.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obamamaniacs Attacks on Palin Could Backfire

There's a generation gap out there in the US--those people that have a significant online presence (or at least understand what that means) and those of an older generation that just shake their head at "kids these days". The dichotomy is everywhere. More and more people are meeting online and yet another generation wonders how you could ever make that connection in a virtual world.

Obama is known as the hip candidate, the one to appeal to those young people who understand an online life. But one aspect of online behavior might catch up to his campaign in a negative way.

Anyway who has spent any appreciable amount of time online knows that there is very little personal accountability and, as a result, people are rude, vicious, and down right abusive. They "say things" under a cloak of anonymity that they would never say in real life. For example, the site is a (hilarious) site where people submit news stories with funny headlines and people comment on them. The discussions in the comments can quickly become an all out war between atheists and people of faith, pro-life and pro-choice, liberal and conservative, you name it. The tone of the comments can be down right brutal. Nothing very productive is accomplished but then that is not the point--fark is for entertainment.

The problem comes when people take that "say anything" attitude and bring it an area where a more mature attitude is expected. Note this post from a liberal blog called the Reclusive Leftist. This is not the posting of some right-wing blogger who is going to defend Sarah Palin because the party tells her to. She writes with an online vibe, dropping the f-bomb and several other four letter words in a short post. But notice her observation:
It will complete the alienation of the rest of the Hillary supporters from the Obama camp. How? That’s easy — the Obamabots will do it themselves. Go read the Washington Post blog or anywhere online where the Palin pick is being discussed, and you’ll see the trademark Obama misogyny already out in full force. She’s been on the ticket for two seconds and already the Obamabots are saying she “looks like a porn star,” they’re making rude remarks about her childbearing, they’re ridiculing her intelligence.
People are going to areas with free commenting (such as the Washington Post) and unloading on Palin like they would on fark. What is funny in one context becomes offensive in another. Actions have consequences. Imagine an independent woman on the cusp who isn't sure which way she is voting. This woman happens to be a mother, and through that she can relate in some way to Palin. When this mother reads comments ridiculing Palin because she is a mother...well suddenly John McCain might find he has one more vote.

Certainly Obama himself isn't anti-mother or anti-family. But if his supporters expose voters that are not experienced with the harshness of online behavior to a storm of hatred and insults, the consequences could be severe.

Back to Blogging (aka What Happened to Keith Olbermann)

This is my second (third?) return to blogging after a long break. I can't really explain why I am back any better than I can explain why I started in the first place. I can say that the return has been an interesting experience.

I've made more posts in the last 2 days than I think I ever have in such a short period. I find myself balancing the desire to overdo it with the realization that nobody is really reading this (yet!).

One thing that has happened that I didn't realize is that I still get page hits for posts I made years ago. For example, one of the most recent hits to the blog is from this google search, concerning Keith Olbermann and what has happened to him.

The first link returned by google happens to be a post I made back on August 30, 2005. It had to do with Lance Armstrong and an actor's strike. Now I'm sure whomever started the google search was interested in more recent events. Olbermann recently lost it during the DNC coverage and there was discussion that MSNBC might implode as a result.

But that is a topic for another post. What I found interesting that my old post got dredged up by a new google search and somebody out there read it (or at least started to) years after it was written. It gives blogging a sense of permanence I hadn't associated with it before.

Anyway, enough of that. I'm back and for now have the interest and momentum to keep going. Enough of the meta posts and back to blogging on real topics after this.

Roundup of Reactions to Palin Pick for VP

The web, understandably, is buzzing over the pick of Palin for VP by McCain. In some ways the reactions are exactly what you expect--the left is laughing and already in attack mode, the right is claiming it is the best political move ever. At work at the moment, so I don't have time for a deep analysis but some quick thoughts:

(1) The "lack of experience" line is a dangerous one for Obama to walk. Dems say: "Your VP candidate has little experience." Republicans counter with: "Your presidential candidate has little experience." Where do you go from there?

(2) I'm a little taken aback by the extreme nature of the comments from (conservative, independent) women bloggers. They aren't just interested, they are ecstatic.

Kim Priestap, Wizbang:
This is brilliant. In one fell swoop, John McCain usurped Barack Obama's mantra of hope and change. When Obama was faced with the chance to actually practice what he preached, he balked by choosing a Washington insider, Joe Biden. It was the "cantankerous and old" John McCain who delivered what Obama couldn't: hope and real change with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
And I already have that quote from Althouse in a previous post about being in tears. Note that Althouse didn't vote for Bush and was wishy-washy in this election but seemed to like Obama until recently. This isn't a case of some way-to-the-right woman towing the party line. If the Palin pick can bring just 5% of the female vote to McCain that is a huge swing.

(3) I've been reading up on Palin and the story is certainly different. She worked for a living. Her husband works for a living. She is about as far away from "typical Washington" as you can get. Obama has been pushing that he represents a changing of the old guard in Washington. With the respective picks of Biden and Palin, I don't think that argument is as strong as it was earlier in the campaign.

Other reactions:

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air: A thorough list of risks and rewards.

Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit:
The Insta-Wife is ecstatic, which may bode well for that demographic. I'd like it if she had more executive experience, but to be fair, she's got more than anyone else on either ticket. Is she too liberal on gay rights? Not for me, but maybe for some people.
Much more here.

Victor Hanson, the Corner, has a long list of positives.

And of course Ann Althouse can't stop blogging about it.

More (much more) later.

McCain VP: Now Palin?

All signs currently seem to be pointing to Palin for VP for McCain. I had sort of discounted the possibility, the thinking being that women would considering it pandering for the female vote. Ann Althouse is liveblogging the decision and it has made me rethink that line of reasoning. Notice this paragraph:
On TV, on Fox, they are saying what they know is that Romney, Huckabee, and Pawlenty are out. [CORRECTED TEXT: I'd written "is up" for some strange reason.] Ah so, it's going to be a woman. I'm hearing this for the first time at 8:37 Central Time. I will reveal that, instantly, a chill ran through my body when I heard that, and I have broken a sob or two as I write this.
She doesn't normally get this emotional about issues. So maybe the choice of Palin (if it is Palin) will be an effective one.

I have more thoughts on other Althouse comments from that same post, but I wanted to get this out there.

Edit: It is Palin! Althouse adds:
9:37: "MCCAIN PICKS SARAH PALIN." On the screen. Tears! Chills!!!!
This could be a historically brilliant move. Or of course a blunder if enough people don't vote for McCain because a woman is on the ticket.

Off the Front Page....or Maybe Not

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey has a post on the imminent McCain VP pick. He keeps updating the post and one of his later updates is:
Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, is also hearing from sources that she’s the pick. What an unbelievable head fake by McCain, perfectly executed to build suspense and knock The One off the front page this morning. Mind-blowing.
Now, I use to be an avid reader of Morrissey when he authored his own blog (Captain's Quarters). Even though I've read him less since his move to Hot Air, I still consider him savvy.

So to check his "off the front page" comment, I went over to to see how much space they were giving the McCain VP pick.

Can you spot the McCain coverage? For those that still haven't fully woken up this morning, I outlined it in red. What media bias?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCain VP: Is it Pawlenty?

There's an interesting post over at Wizbang about how bloggers were predicting back in 2006 that the Republican ticket in 2008 would be McCain/Pawlenty. There are two things here of note.

One, predicting McCain who was considered a long shot against the likes of Romney and Giuliani is impressive.

Two, in my own VP musings, I had given enough credit to the importance of Minnesota in the eventual electoral map. My focus has been on FL/OH/PA. But the quote from the Wizbang post in reference to GOP Bloggers' Mark Noonan is interesting:
Without Minnesota, the Democrat's chances of winning the White House become nearly impossible - and a re-elected Pawlenty as VP for the GOP could pretty well ensure Minnesota's electoral votes go red in 20
The electoral projections have of course changed since 2006 and a generic Democratic opponent. But the point stands.

We'll know soon enough if the 2006 crystal ball was 100% accurate.

AARP and Honesty, Pick One

There's a short but interesting post by David Bernstein regarding a new ad campaign by the AARP.

The AARP is claiming that 1.85 million American per yer are forced to declare bankruptcy due to medical bills. I haven't been able to track down an exact figure on the personal number of bankruptcies filed in the US, but this information would suggest it is less than 1 million a year.

So the AARP is making a wild claim and, it seems, a grossly inaccurate one. As Bernstein says:
In other words, the AARP is claiming that every single bankruptcy in the U.S. is due to medical bills.
It is frustrating that actions like this typically have no consequence. People will see the commercial and not question it. More psychological data that we need socialized health care, or whatever the AARP's goal is. Heaven forbid we have a discussion about the actual issue.

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

Vladimir Putin is Racist

Speechless. I'm shocked this isn't getting more coverage in blogs and by traditional news outlets. Today, Russian Prime Minister Putin accused the U.S. of orchestrating the Georgian war.

I think people are more likely to believe that he has a shot on appearing on the next season of Dancing With the Stars. I don't know what is more ridiculous about this accusation: that the U.S. would have Russia start a war just to make defense a burning issue in the upcoming election; or that Russia would even begin to do what the U.S asked.

Making defense a big issue favors McCain. What possible reason could Putin have in seeing a war vet in the oval office over an inexperienced and young senator? Wait...I've been taught the answer to this. If he doesn't want Obama in office, clearly he must be racist. Yeah, that's it.

And if he floats on water, he must be a witch...

On the Other Hand...

So just below I posted on how I thought an advertisement by McCain during Obama's speech was inappropriate and disrespectful. I would stand by that statement unless this is the ad that is going to be played:

Whether McCain wins or not, taking time out to congratulate Obama on being the first black nominee for president should be remembered as a classy move.

McCain has been strong enough with "negative campaigning" that I don't think anyone will criticize him after the election for being soft, whatever the outcome. But an ad like the above is well-played and well-timed. It also preempts any sort of shenanigans during the RNC.

Media Bias Shameless and Lame

Ann Althouse on a predictable TIME headline:
How many media folks are dying to piss off McCain and get him to blow up and confirm the idea that he's a big hothead? Obviously, he knows that and he's not taking the bait. Yet you still publish an article called "McCain's Prickly TIME Interview," trying to portray it as the blowup you were not able to procure. Lame. Shameless bias.
The best part about this is that they only post an excerpt from the interview. I'm just shocked they picked the part after they annoyed him.

I'm forced to agree: lame. Sadly I am not even the least bit surprised and you shouldn't be either.

McCain Ad Tonight a Poor Choice

Edit: The situation changed as the nature of this ad became clear. I give my thoughts in this post. Again, hats of to McCain for staying classy.

According to reports, McCain will unveil an ad tonight during Obama's nomination acceptance speech. Details are still sketchy:
Aides would give few details beyond the fact that McCain will speak directly to the camera, addressing Obama.
While the McCain campaign can be given points for quickly reacting to the changing political scene, I feel this particular response is a mistake.

It shows a lack of respect. Tonight is Obama's night, McCain will have a similar night at the end of the RNC. To debut and ad during the speech is inappropriate.

I've never been a supporter of this sort of tactic. I don't like the "opposing party's response" after a state of the union address. The president gets to make that speech and shouldn't be night for "but he's wrong!" To violate this just sets up an atmosphere lacking respect. And you can bet that if McCain does it during Obama's speech, then Obama will do it during McCain's speech.

This well-you-did-it precedent is a bad one. While he certainly made critical mistakes, I always felt the attempted impeachment of Clinton to be a dangerous course of action. Once the precedent was set, the cries of "Impeach Bush!" could be expected. Whomever is elected come November should not face fears of impeachment no matter how minuscule the violation.

There is a time for counter-attack and during a nomination acceptance speech isn't it. Besides, who will be listening? The people actually watching the speech will be heavily pro-Obama and the advertisement is likely only to annoy and motivate them.

Media Bias -- That Didn't Take Long

I have a whole number of topics backlogged that I planned on writing about first. I know media bias would work its way in there--I can't help but follow the topic. However, it took only a couple of hours before I ran across something that I had to post about.

There was some good 2Q economic news released today, and the AP story covering it opened with this:
The economy shifted to a higher gear in the spring, growing at its fastest pace in nearly a year as foreign buyers snapped up U.S. exports and tax rebates spurred shoppers at home.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product, or GDP, increased at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. The revised reading was much better than the government's initial estimate of a 1.9 percent pace and exceeded economists' expectations for a 2.7 percent growth rate.
A couple of hours later the headline of the story changed to "Spring's economic rebound unlikely to last" and the opening changed to:
The economy pulled out of a dangerous rough patch in the spring, thanks largely to strong exports, but the rebound isn't expected to last. Economic slowdowns overseas could make exports tail off just as Americans are hunkering down after the bracing impact of rebate checks wanes, plunging the country into another rut later this year.

"There will be heavy sledding for the U.S. economy during the next couple of quarters," predicted Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Bank of America's Investment Strategies Group.
Well isn't that interesting? I guess you can't have good economic news out there so you have to cover the actual news (an increase in GPD) with conjecture (the economy is going to be horrible). If the second part is news, I should be able to make a killing in the stock market come fall by selling short.

Hat tip: Wizbangblog.

Obama and Icarus

The story of Icarus and flying too close to the sun is often used to warn of the dangers of hubris. Obama's choice of using a recreation of a Greek temple from which to deliver his nomination acceptance speech could prove to be a modern retelling of that myth.

For those not following the back story, the Obama campaign has decided that it is best for Obama to give his nomination acceptance speech outside (OK), in a huge, huge stadium (questionable), and from behind a huge recreation of a Greek temple (what are you thinking?).

Fresh from coming back from a European trip that received criticism for making Obama seem "too European" and "out of touch with American values", I can safely say that trying to appear like a Caesar accepting control of the Roman legions is not the best course of action. Poll support for Obama dropped after the European trip; recreating the experience in the U.S. is a poor campaign strategy.

And negativity isn't just coming only from crazed Republicans--only the tone is different. Sure the conservative view point is mocking:
And the guy wonders why most Americans see him as an arrogant, elitist snob. He tries to play himself off as an everyman, and then pulls this?! People are tired of the fawning adulation from the media and from Democrats. They're tired of the Obamamessiah passing himself off as some kind of Savior. If Obama was smart, he'd start coming down to Earth... using less of the arrogant God stuff and more of the "I'm just a regular guy" stuff. Performing a speech on a raised platform in a Greek temple with confetti raining from the sky and fireworks is more than a little bit ridiculous.
and McCain advisors are asking "Is this from the Onion?"

But there is also concern from the within the Democratic party:
"We already know he is a rock star; we already know he can bring 85,000 people together in a stadium. He has done it multiple times. He needs to talk to people who haven't made up their minds yet," said Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen.

"It's likely that the campaign would do it differently if it had to do it again because the decision was made before the European trip," said a senior Democratic elected officeholder who has worked closely with the Obama campaign.
That, I think, is the major point. Obama set on a dramatic stage with 80,000+ people screaming in excitement at his every word is sure to create a feel good moment for Obama fans. But to undecided people, to people who aren't sure about Obama, who have heard a little about a celebrity vibe that they don't care for, such a ridiculous display is unlikely to win them over.

Why Not?

The recent onslaught of media coverage about the presidential election has prompted several political discussions with friends. In these conversations, one of my more savvy friends told me, "You should start blogging again!"

With the mountain of material today's media is presenting, I've found I can't say no.

Let the game commence, once again.