Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the... what the?

Oops! Turns out today has provided America with a storehouse of interesting facts around everyone's favorite new everyman, Joe the Plumber... fact #1 on the list is that Joe is, in fact, not licensed as a plumber! From an AP article published today:
Joe the Plumber said Thursday he doesn't have a license and doesn't need one. Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, the nickname Republican John McCain bestowed on him during Wednesday's presidential debate, said he works for a small plumbing company that does residential work. Because he works for someone else, he doesn't need a license, he said.
In other places on the web Daily Kos is documenting an ongoing series of info pieces on Joe, including information seeming to indicate he's a registered Republican (not the independent folks are making him out to be) and that he doesn't worry too much about taxes, since it appears he simply doesn't pay 'em. Oops, indeed!

Worth 1,000 Words? 10,000?

Amazing how things just get crystallized in the strange stillness of photography. I caught this moment last night at the end of the debate (check the live blog, I mentioned it at 10:31 PM) and in real time, live, as it happened it was strange and kinda fun. McCain made a mistake about where he was headed while exiting the stage, and he kinda jokingly reacted and wagged his tongue while shifting gears to head off the stage in the opposite direction from Obama. Today, however, REUTERS has up the image above, captured by Jim Bourg and the whole thing takes on a new life. Sure, this isn't a video clip like there was when Howard Dean let out his Hzar! back in the 2004 primaries, and maybe it's nothing, but damn if this picture isn't at the very least funny, kinda spooky, and perhaps the best way of encapsulating where things stand right now in this Presidential race.

McCain realizes he headed in the wrong direction, reacts, kinda goofs, and then goes along his merry way.

Post Debate: McCain and Special Needs Children

This morning, as I've read through a series of blog posts about last night's debate I was struck by one issue in particular. A number of writers took different angles on some strange stuff in John McCain's talk about Sarah Palin, special needs children, autism, etc. Now, before I dive into recounting the more interesting information I've run across, let me say that I think any extra attention given to these issues is laudable. Autism, from everything I know is a serious and growing problem in the U.S. and I hope we can all agree that research and work on understanding, treating, and hopefully someday curing some of these ailments is, in my estimation, a clear need.

That said, I came across a couple points I thought were worth conveying, first from my friends over at Purple State Blog, who posted the following insightful question during a liveblogging of the debate:
McCain keeps saying Palin's son has autism, but it's Down's Syndrome.
Oops? Maybe. He did focus largely on autism, perhaps because autism is currently getting attention from a greater number of parents than Down's is. Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan's blog this morning has an even broader and more nuanced critique of what we saw last night, provided by the parent with a 12-year old autistic daughter:
McCain’s most out of touch statement of the evening for me was his claim that Sarah Palin, with her four month old child with Downs Syndrome, knows more about special needs than anyone else he knows. My 12 year old daughter is autistic and I can tell you, at four months I knew next to nothing about the joys and heartbreak of raising a child with a disability.

At four months these kids are much like typical babies --- sweet, full of hope, and we related to them the same way relate to every other child we know. Ask parents of adults and teenagers with down syndrome or autism about what they know --- it is a different world.
To close things out, NBC's First Read has a good set of questions that pull us back from what was said to what the McCain camp has actually proposed in relationship to research on autism, programs for special needs children and families (hint: it's very little). There has been much talk of Sarah Palin's empathy for and understanding of what it means to have a special needs child, but what would a McCain administration actually do. Domenico Montanaro at NBC asks:
But what does McCain-Palin specifically want to do about special education? Do they agree with IDEA? Do they want to expand rights for special-education students to private schools? Do they want to increase funding? Do they want more access, by way of funding, to special-ed advocates?

McCain also said they want to help find a cure. But how?

The NIH budget has been slashed in the past eight years. Does McCain-Palin propose additional funding, particularly for autism or Down's research?

We don't know. Nothing was or has been laid out.