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That Time The Wall Street Journal Claimed Obama Misspoke and Misquoted Him at the Same Time

Mary Anastasia O’Grady explains to us some interesting things about Colombia. While it’s more than a little oversimplified it is interesting. However, she misquotes Obama from the third debate. O’Grady claims that Obama said “they’re assassinating labor leaders in Colombia and there have been no prosecutions,” adding in a harsh tone, “that is a flat out lie.” The lie however is that Obama said “no prosections.” What the video and transcripts show is that he said, “The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions.” [1] While this may appear the same on the surface they are quite different and it gets my English degree blood boiling. There is a huge difference between “no prosecutions” and “there haven’t been prosecutions.” One means not once, not ever. The other means there have been assassinations that have gone without prosecution (not all but some, maybe even a lot), which is something that O’Grady admits to herself. Guess which one Obama said.

In the end there is only one flat out lie here, and its O’Grady’s. News organizations should make sure to properly quote someone, especially when they are attacking that quote. Maybe Rupert Murdock had The Wall Street journal lay off most of their fact checkers, because there is no excuse for screwing up something this simple.

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McCain Having his Cake and Refusing to Eat it

McCain has been making a stink over John Lewis’ remarks. Lewis pointed out that the McCain campaign has been fostering fear and hate that is creating a dangerous atmosphere. McCain says he is hurt by Lewis’ statement and I don’t doubt that. But the problem is that you can’t go around saying someone is “paling around with terrorists” and then be shocked when folks start yelling out “treason,” “kill him” and “terrorist” at your rallies. The McCain campaign has been deliberately engaging in hateful character assassination. Is it any wonder that people on both sides are getting worked up about it.

Lewis said that “George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.” The McCain campaign is doing the same. Perhaps McCain is genuinely surprised by the people spewing hatred, but if that is true it only goes to show how disconnected he is with his own country and with the feelings of people in general.

You can’t tell people that a person is dangerous and then expect them to respond rationally. I think a lot of folks recognize that the McCain is full of BS so they aren’t taking it seriously, but not everyone realizes that and it’s those people that these messages are directly aimed at.

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Watching the Debates Online Outside the US

Don’t live in the US? Then you are probably out of luck. Most video sites ban viewers from outside the US. For TV shows this is annoying but understandable due to “licensing constraints.” However, political debates are not property and those don’t fall under the licensing constraint umbrella. Here in Japan I found myself looking far and wide online to see the debates. Even YouTube wasn’t turning up reasonable results. Hulu and the like banning viewers outside the US is insidious. As an American citizen living abroad it is important to me that I can take part in the political discourse of my country— especially the presidential elections.

For anyone looking for a way to watch the debates outside of the US, try iTunes (search “presidential debate 2008”). You can download video podcasts of the debates from CBS. Thank you Apple and thank you CBS.

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Who is the Real Obama

As Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show, the question we should be asking is— Who is Palin? We’ve had lots interviews, debates, a book, etc etc that help us know Obama. We have next to nothing about Palin. The McCain campaign has kept Palin hidden behind a curtain. We’ve heard so little from her of content from her that it scares me. When she has spoken it’s been vacuous, vague, or pointless folky chit-chat. I want to know more about a woman that could be president. I know plenty about Obama, as much as know about McCain anyway. Or should I say knew about McCain? McCain has changed since he began his last desperate attempt to become president. So there is another good question— who is McCain now?

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Palin Debate Flowchart

If you watched the Vice President debate you may have noticed that Palin didn’t really come off as convincing. Well, there is a reason for that. While both Palin and Biden are working from a script only one was able to supplement that with actual content and it wasn’t Palin. I don’t think Biden knocked anyone’s socks off, but he didn’t away from Palin and addressed what she said directly while Palin only spoke of things tangentially related to what the moderator or Biden spoke about. So here it is, fresh from some guy’s website, the Palin Debate flowchart:

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Gotacha Journalism

McCain seems to be pushing the phrase “gotcha journalism” to fight against journalists these days. Both McCain and Palin used the phrase several times in a recent interview with Katie Couric. “I understand this day and age of ‘gotcha’ journalism,” McCain says.

It makes me wonder, if McCain was honest would he have to worry about “gotcha journalism?” I know people can misspeak and are sometimes mis-characterized, but those moments are usually acknowledged by the broader media and the population in general.

It seems unfair to dismiss criticism with a catchy phrase. It seems doubly disingenuous when it is done by a person who has run the kind of campaign that McCain has. A look at the PolitiFact website, a website dedicated to getting to the truth of things said by both sides of the campaign, shows that McCain has been startlingly dishonest. Further, he should stop trying to create gotcha moments himself. If McCain doesn’t like gotcha journalism then he only has to stop feeding it so regularly. There will always be people looking to point out small contradictions, but those kinds of petty folks are largely ignored. However, when people have valid questions about false statements or large contradictions McCain must answer with more than just a catchphrase.

My advice is that if McCain doesn’t like “gotcha journalism” he should run an honest campaign that doesn’t contradict itself in serious ways.

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A Nice Summary of McCain's Lies

I’ve officially lost all respect for McCain. I feel really sorry for him because he went from being a man a someone could kind of admire to being a man that seems grotesquely obsessed with becoming president to the point where he’s no longer even a shadow of his old self. I would never have expected these things of him. It must have been a slippery slope that McCain found himself on.

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Did McCain Pick Palin Out of a Hat?

I’m curious how a guy with McCain’s history decided on Palin.

McCain first met Palin only six months ago and had just one conversation with the Alaska governor before offering her the vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket, the Arizona senator’s campaign said Friday.

(CNN)

When I ask if he picked her out of a hat I am being a bit facetious, of course. But if I was running for president, no matter how much I read and no matter how much my staff vetted the person I’d want to have several heart-to-hearts before giving the someone the chance to be the next in line to run the country. But more preferable, I’d like to have known the person long enough to understand her. When I was in college I had six or seven interviews before getting a job a Budweiser brewery, and that was for a job picking up bottles that fell onto their side on the conveyor belt.

So the question becomes, what went into McCain’s pick and why did he choose her?

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McCain Writes Zen Koan on Leno

I just read a John McCain quote in a Reuters’ article about his Jay Leno appearance that is such non-sense that it could inspire enlightenment.

McCain said, “I’m proud of my record of service to this country and it has nothing to do with houses. What it has to do with (is) putting Americans in houses and keeping them in their homes. And that’s what I know how to do.”

Just trying to untangle that could kill you if you aren’t careful. From what I can make of it, this is what McCain is saying:
1) Remember I was a POW
2) Being a POW has nothing to do with houses
3) Being a POW has something to do with houses
4) I know about houses

Number one is undisputed. Numbers two and three are disputed by themselves. Number four has no supporting evidence and becomes a sort of non-sequitur. It’s a non-sequitur because his point wasn’t about houses so much as it was about him being in a war. One can only guess this claim of housing “know how” is being framed by his war experience to form some sort of half-assed attempt to shield. This is a sneaky move if done right. The problem is that he foregrounded his war experience and put houses in the background. That’s backwards. All it does is draw attention to the trick.

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