Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Debate #3: The Final Beat-Down

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

I didn’t have the opportunity to record my thoughts on the debate as it happened, but here are some thoughts on the final Presidential debate.  I’ll probably post some more as I get time.

Here’s a link to the debate transcript from CNN.

Let’s talk about education.  Here’s John McCain talking about what he will do about science education. He’ll cut spending on things that are useful to science education as wasteful “pork”.  Things like planetariums.

Sen. Obama has asked for nearly $1 billion in pork-barrel earmark projects… including $3 million for an overhead projector in a planetarium in his hometown. That’s not the way we cut — we’ll cut out all the pork.

I’m not sure who McCain thinks this tidbit – which he’s mentioned in the past two debates – is supposed to impress.  I do know that he’s probably managed to alienate any science educator in the country who is paying attention.  For those of you who weren’t – John McCain thinks science outreach is wasteful “pork”, and he will eliminate it.

And while we’re on the subject of “pork”, Obama happened to bring up an important point:

Now, Sen. McCain talks a lot about earmarks. That’s one of the
centerpieces of his campaign.

Earmarks account for 0.5 percent of the total federal budget.

So McCain’s campaign is built on obsessing over half a percent of the budget?  No wonder Republicans are so bad at controlling the national debt.  They can’t see the forest for the trees.

Rights and responsibilities

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I mentioned this in my Debate #2 liveblog, but I thought I’d highlight the attitude towards health care access on display by the candidates.  Tom Brokaw asked the candidates whether access to health care was “a privilege, a right, or a responsibility”.

Currently, access to health care is a privilege.  I work at a community college, and I have met plenty of folks who simply cannot obtain preventative care, treatments for illnesses that are not immediately life-threatening, etc.  That’s disgusting.  (I’ve talked about this before on the blog.) And it says something about our collective morality that we would allow this to be the case.  We don’t get to use “we can’t afford to provide our citizens with access to medical care” as an excuse, since financing doesn’t seem to stop other industrialized countries from providing access.

So, what did the candidates say?  Here’s McCain.

I think it’s a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member. And with the plan that — that I have, that will do that.

But government mandates I — I’m always a little nervous about. But it is certainly my responsibility. It is certainly small-business people and others, and they understand that responsibility. American citizens understand that. Employers understand that.

So, it’s a “responsibility” for society that we ensure access to care.  He can’t bear to come out and say that it should be a right, because that implies that the government (and his administration) would be held accountable for protecting that right.  He immediately says that he’s uncomfortable with the government making sure access to care is available – transitioning to fear-mongering about “mandates”.  I suppose access to care for other Americans is an optional “responsibility”?

Compare to Obama’s answer.

Well, I think it should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills — for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.

While I don’t think Obama’s health care plan is nearly ambitious enough, I like it that he gets that access to health care in the twenty-first century should be considered a basic right.  One that our nation has a moral obligation to protect.

Obama / McCain Debate #2 – Live!

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Starting late tonight, since we were busy reading to Cate.

9:23 – McCain is riding hard on earmarks, which seem to be just a distraction so folks won’t notice other problems.  Points out that Obama supported funding a planetarium.  This was meant to be a slam on Obama, but sounds like a pretty good idea to this science educator.

9:25  McCain’s still talking about bipartisanship.  Mentions working with Joe Lieberman.  So working with Lieberman – who is a Republican in all but name now – counts as reaching across the aisle?

9:27 Obama: “McCain likes to talk about earmarks a lot.”

9:28 Can someone take the crackers out of Tom Brokaw’s mouth, please?

9:30 McCain “We’ll have to have an across-the-board spending freeze”.  That sounds like panic rather than an economic plan – as if McCain’s just going to throw his hands into the air and give up trying to figure out what’s going on with spending and taxation.  And if McCain’s going to freeze spending, how’s he going to “get to work right away” on health care?

9:31 Obama reminds us of Bush’s “Go out and shop” after 9/11.  He also reminds us that “earmarks” are a small part of our current troubles.  Says McCain’s freeze proposal is like using a hatchet when a scalpel is more appropriate.  That’s a pretty good analogy.  Across-the-board cuts/freezes screw everything up instead of curtailing wasteful spending.

9:36 McCain says that Obama will increase taxes on half of small businesses.  I suspect Obama to hit back on this.  McCain says he doesn’t want to cut taxes for the wealthy.  That’s news.  Cutting taxes for the rich has been McCain’s stated plan from the day he began his preparations for this year’s election.  McCain also seems to think Obama favors “mandates” and “fines”.

9:27 Brokaw fails to allow Obama to respond to McCain’s bull.  Obama looks pretty pissed off about it.  Good for Obama.  So far, I’m not impressed with the format.  Looks like Obama’s going to go back to addressing McCain’s statements anyway – in answering the question on entitlement programs.

9:41 McCain He knows how to fix Social Security.  Says it’s easy, in fact.  He just won’t say what his solution is.  (This is probably because his solution would cost him the election.  Perhaps he wants to privatize it?)  Brings up the “94 tax increases” thing.  We’ll see if Obama hits him like Biden hit Palin for the same remarks during the VP debate.

9:43 A question for McCain about what he’ll do to make Congress move on climate change.  Nuclear power is the cure to all our ills, he say.   Oddly, though, he points out that he failed to get his proposal on climate change through Congress.  Sorta like he did the first time with the bailout bill when he “suspended” his campaign to push the bill through.

9:46 If McCain is going to play the “Obama voted xx times to raise taxes”, Obama’s going to hit McCain the same way on his environmental record.

9:48 Brokaw wants to know about whether we should start a “Manhattan project” for alternative energy.  McCain:  Pork-barrel projects!  Obama gave tax breaks to oil companies! Drill here, drill now!  What?

9:50 In terms of format, this debate is asinine.  What’s the point of a “debate” if the candidates aren’t allowed a rebuttal for obvious attacks?  I came here for an argument!

9:52 Obama brings up McCain’s “giveth with one hand, taketh with the other” proposal to give a tax credit and then tax employer-provided health care.  McCain talks about “shopping around” for insurance. Call me crazy, but I sure as hell don’t want to “shop” for health insurance.  Heck, I have allergies – I suspect the coverage I’d get on the open market would be much worse and much more expensive than what I have now.

9:56 McCain:  Health care is a “responsibility”.  Obama:  Health care should be a “basic right”.  I think that’s about right.

10:00  WordPress eats my last few comments.  Obama did respond effectively to McCain’s implications that he would need “on the job training” – saying that there are some things he doesn’t understand – like the reason we invaded the wrong country after failing to finish the job in Afghanistan.

10:06 “The McCain Doctrine” appears to be “Attack Obama First”.  And what’s with this “another Holocaust” thing that McCain mentions over and over?

10:14 Obama slaps back at McCain’s insinuation that he wants to invade Pakistan.  “Bomb bomb bomb Iran”  “Next up, Baghdad!”  McCain gets silly in response:  He “knows how to get bin Laden”, but he can’t tell anyone.  He’s said this before.  But why he hasn’t told … say … the current government about his great plan, so bin Laden might be brought to justice?

10:20 The Russia / Georgia stuff is the same thing they said in the last debate – both for McCain and Obama.  Where’s the fast-forward button on the live debate?

10:25  Oh, not this “preconditions” crap from McCain again.  It wasn’t convincing during the last debate, and it’s not convincing now.  It’s not even relevant to the question being asked.

10:31  Okay, the last question asked is one of those trick interview questions.  “What don’t you know?”  I suspect Obama and McCain will just use this to make their closing statements  Yup – that’s exactly what they did.  McCain says we need a “steady hand at the tiller”.  Sounds like he just endorsed Obama rather than his wild, maverick-y self!  Come to think of it, I didn’t hear the word “maverick” at all.  Is this the death of John McCain’s self-proclaimed “maverick” status?

Here’s the debate transcript.

Palin on climate change

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Here’s what VP candidate Palin had to say on climate change during the VP debate:

Yes. Well, as the nation’s only Arctic state and being the
governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change
more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real.

I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in
the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities,
but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.

But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to
argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going
to get there to positively affect the impacts?

We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other
nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change,
what we can do about that.

Someone in the McCain campaign must’ve told her to tone down her opinions on climate change from outright denial to mere incoherence.  Earlier, she was more forceful with her denial.

“I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”

One question I’d have for Palin is this:  If you don’t believe that human activity has anything to do with climate change, then what do you expect humans to do about climate change?

If human activity isn’t responsible for climate change, what will she ask other nations to “come along with us” and do?

And as an aside, it seems that we have already had a chance to team up with other nations on the environment.  We didn’t do so well.  (I don’t recall Palin supporting that initiative, either.)

Palin/Biden liveblogging

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

9:10 Palin says that Obama votes with his party most of the time, and that doesn’t represent change.  Haven’t the Republicans been in power until very recently?  And don’t they still hold the presidency?

9:12 So far, Biden attacks McCain and hasn’t had much of anything to say about Palin.  He gets in a good hit on McCain on his “let’s do for health care what we did for banking” remark.

9:13:  Palin “Darn right”.  Take one drink every time she says this during the debate, and you’ll never make it to the end.  She also brings up Obama “increasing taxes on people making $42000 per year”, which is false.

9:14 Biden fires back at Palin about deregulation, says that McCain voted to raise taxes more than Obama by Palin’s standard.

9:16 Biden says 95% of taxpayers get a tax break under Obama, while McCain’s tax plan benefits the rich.

9:17 Palin:  She’s always been in the “middle class”.  $500K custom-built lakehouse?  Private plane?  Riiight.  Palin misfires, I think, on health care.  It’s the private sector that’s in the doghouse right now.  I’m guessing lots of folks out there wouldn’t mind universal healthcare right about now.

9:20  Biden: 95% of small businesses wouldn’t see a tax increase.  Also points out that McCain will tax health benefits.  Good.  He also points out that people will lose insurance and the tax credit won’t be enough to replace it.  He calls McCain’s health plan a “bridge to nowhere”. Zing!

9:22  Palin:  McCain doesn’t tell one thing to one group and another thing to another group.  Riight.  She also says she “took on” the oil companies.  Doesn’t explicitly say she taxes the oil companies, though.  Palin says that the doesn’t have to cut back on any promises due to the bailout because she hasn’t been on the national scene long enough to make any promises.  What the heck?

9:25 Biden points out that Alaska does have a windfall profits tax – like the one Obama supports and McCain doesn’t.  Biden says Palin should convince McCain to do likewise.

9:27 Does Palin know about any financial institutions other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

9:28 Bankruptcy bill.  Good of Biden to stay away from that topic, since he’s on the wrong side of it.

9:29 Palin seems to think she’s an expert on energy independence.  By saying that it’s something we should do.  Hmm.  Oddly, she seems to never mention alternative energies to oil.

9:31  Palin on climate change.  Admits it’s real, still waffles on it being man-made.  Biden states that it’s man-made.  Points out how much energy we use, and accuses McCain of voting against alternative energy (20 times).  Finally, someone mentions alternative energy.

9:34  Palin:  “Drill, baby, drill” for “hungry markets”.  Says offshore drilling is clean and safe.

9:36 Biden: Supports “rights for same-sex couples”.  Palin blathers about not wanting to “redefine marriage” but is “tolerant”.  Biden doesn’t support “gay marriage”, but no civil distinction between the two.  So what the heck is Biden talking about?

9:40 Palin:  Petraeus, surge, etc.  You’ve heard it before.   Accuses Obama of withholding money from troops.

9:41  Biden: McCain also voted to withhold money from the troops – because the bill had a timeline.  Wants to “end this war”.

9:43 Palin says that withdrawal is “a white flag of surrender”.  Brings up “cutting off finding for the troops” again.  If at first you don’t succeed …

9:46  Biden talks about Pakistan.  An unstable Pakistan, he says, more a worry than Iran because they already have nukes.

9:48 Palin:  Channeling one of McCain’s more asinine comments from the last debate – that it’s silly to meet with enemy leaders.

9:50 Biden:  Brings up the McCain Spain gaffe again.  I suppose that Palin can’t hit back because McCain doesn’t want to admit he got confused?

9:55 Palin says that you can’t criticize the past if you want to change?  Huh?

9:56 Take one drink every time Biden says “George Bush” – as in, McCain is just like.  It’s true, of course, that you shouldn’t elect another conservative Republican if you want to move away from conservative Republican policies.

9:58  Biden:  “Facts matter”.  Surge won’t work in Afghanistan (according to the military), since we need to build infrastructure, etc. And we don’t spend money there.  3 weeks of Iraq = 7 years of Afghanistan in terms of money.

10:00 Palin’s response:  SURGE!

10:04 Palin really likes that “Obama voted against funding the troops” point.  Wonder if Biden will point out McCain doing the same thing … again?  It’s probably dangerous to attack Biden on his AUMF vote.  McCain voted the same way, and Obama spoke out against it.  Don’t folks vote for the TOP of the ticket?

10:07 Palin says “McCain knows how to win a war”.  He does?

10:09  I think Palin has called herself a “maverick” more than McCain has.  I still say that “maverick” is a title that no one can self-apply.

10:11 Palin says that Obama/Biden ticket will destroy your jobs and raise your taxes.

10:12 Palin: I still don’t get Palin’s whole “you can’t criticize the administration” thing.  If you’re running for change or reform, you kinda have to point out the flaws of the current administration.  Perhaps she doesn’t want to hear McCain being hammered with his recent agreement with everything Bush stands for.

10:18  I’m not sure what Palin was saying about the vice presidency.  Biden at least answered the question.

10:19  Palin has “a connection to the heartland”?  I somehow doubt that someone with a half-million dollar home really has to worry about how they can pay college tuition.

10:21  Palin admits folks are looking for change.  Says McCain’s a “maverick” (twice) and will bring change.  Good opening for Biden to bring up “voted with Bush 90% of the time”.

10:23 Biden takes the opening.  Slams McCain on his rather conservative voting record and his agreement with Bush – he’s not really a “maverick”.

10:28 Palin says exactly the same thing she said before about Obama/McCain “will kill jobs and raise taxes on workers”.  She likes to “answer tough questions” (by not answering them?  Most of what Palin’s said has had little to do with the moderator’s questions.)  Claims to be an “average, middle class” person.  Someone should point out to her what the median annual household income actually is.  It’s okay to be rich, but it’s not okay to lie about it and pretend you’re not.  She gets in a “POW” reference, of sorts, for McCain

10:31 Nice ending by Biden.

PBS pundits say that Palin “held her own”.  This seems to be what the TV folks are saying.  They seem to like the “soccer mom”, “joe sixpack” stuff.  Do most folks really want a “soccer mom” or “joe sixpack” a heartbeat away from the Presidency?

My initial take:  Palin didn’t burst into flames on the stage, so on that scale she did well.  Biden certainly showed that he was much more fit for the office.

Here’s the transcript.

Some debate thoughts

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Last night, I watched part of the Obama-McCain debate.  Since I only saw about the last half of the debate, I’m not going to try to say who “won”, overall.  But here are a few assorted thoughts.

  • Like many other folks, I found it off-putting that McCain couldn’t bring himself to look at his opponent.  He also took every opportunity to sneer condescendingly at Obama – talking no fewer than five times about how Obama was “naive” or “didn’t understand” some point of foreign policy.  Oddly enough, he did this even on Georgia. where Obama and McCain are rather similar.  For the part of the debate I saw live, McCain was in full-on “bitter old man” mode.  Bitter, obviously, that some young guy is running for the office that he is rightfully entitled to.  Especially bitter that this young guy is currently winning.
  • If you have to call yourself a meverick, are you really a maverick?  That’s like telling everyone how cool you are instead of actually being cool.
  • How many wars will John McCain start by accident?  Unless he’s much more in control of himself across the table from leaders of rival nations than he was at the debate, quite a few.
  • McCain dug himself a nice, deep hole with the flap over “preconditions”.  Perhaps he should go discuss this with his advisors?
  • I’d like to have seen Obama hit McCain a little harder.  For instance, there was no mention of McCain’s rug-buying expedition with Lindsey Graham, where McCain McCain visited a market while under heavy military guard and then claimed he walked around freely.  Still, I understand that Obama needs to not be seen as overy angry.  He must be the cool-headed leader that Americans can depend on in a crisis.

How could I have missed the most crucial issue of all?  NotVeryBright urges us to consider the flag pin issue! Obama had a flag pin, McCain didn’t!