Posts Tagged ‘election 2008’

Close calls

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Okay, it’s the night of the big election and the reports are pouring in.  And to generate excitement, networks are “calling” states for Obama and McCain.

Here’s MSNBC, calling South Carolina for McCain:

MSNBC calls South Carolina for McCain!

MSNBC calls South Carolina for McCain!

While I do realize that Obama has a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning South Carolina, isn’t it customary for the winner of an election to have more votes than the loser?

Here’s CNN calling Maine for Obama:

Maine goes to Obama!

Maine goes to Obama!

… with a grand total of three votes in!  I know that Maine is a pretty small state, but … three votes decides the election?  Obama by a 2:1 margin … literally.

I voted

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

I voted.

It was a rather odd experience, actually.  The polling place I was assigned to was an elementary school – one in desperate need of a new building.  They were also in deperate need of signs telling people where to go.  Other than a few “Vote Here” signs pointing from the street into the parking lot, the only other obvious sign anywhere on any of the doors was a paper sign reading “EXIT”.  After wandering the empty corridors of the school for a minute or two, I finally found out that the way to get to the voting machines was to go into the door marked “EXIT”.

Despite the talk of long lines and wiating around in the rain to vote, there was only one person in line ahead of me.  There were two lines based on last name, and there were probably about eight people in the other line.  Still, there was essentially no wait at 2 PM.  (My wife, who was assigned to a different polling place through some stupidity at the local voter registration office, said she had to wait about 25 minutes.)

So get out there and vote, if you haven’t already!

Go vote!

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Tomorrow is election day.  Whether you’re a progressive or a conservative, you should go over to your local polling place tomorrow and vote.  It’s important, even if it means you have to go out in the rain.

That said, this is a progressive blog – and we here at Shrimp and Grits would prefer that y’all vote for progressive candidates.  Candidates that support real heath care reform.  Candidates that support (and do not mock in national debates) proper funding for science education – and education in general.  I could go on, of course, but I’m on a short break while waiting for my lab to start.

Sadly, your vote (and mine) for the more progressive Presidential candidate won’t mean much here in South Carolina.  Our electoral votes will almost certainly go to McCain instead of Obama.  But there is a better reason to vote, and it has to do with this mailer I reveived the other day from the (of all people) Republicans in the State House.

'The Scoreboard"

The Scoreboard

Here’s where your vote actually will count for something.  Tired of failed Republican governance and busted budgets?  Then you might want to consider that “scoreboard”

The Plan

Friday, October 31st, 2008

I’m not exactly sure why the pretty solidly Democratic Shrimp and Grits household gets bombarded with Republican mailers, but we do.  I’m going to discuss one we got recently from our local Republican house member.  It details a nine-step plan to make South Carolina better.

I’m going to start out with Step 2.  (Why not 1?  Bear with me …)

Eliminate burdensome regulations

Eliminate burdensome regulations

South Carolina is not known for having lots of “burdensome” regulations as it is.  What are we going to cut here – food safety?  Air quality standards?  Water quality standards?

Limit state spending

Limit state spending

I’ve got to point out here that the state government – both the general assembly and the governor’s mansion – is controlled by the Republican party.  Yet somehow, all South Carolina Republicans are brave reformers, fighting against the “big spending” … wait for it … Republicans.

Still, keep in mind that the Republicans here say they’re for reducing state spending.  Let’s see what else they propose

Become energy independent

Become energy independent

So now the Republicans are concerned with our reliance on oil?  Remember, these are the same Republicans that ripped the solar panels off of the White House because energy independence was a liberal cause.

I do wonder if promoting drilling off places like Myrtle Beach is a winner.  Sure, a majority of South Carolinians might very well favor offshore drilling somewhere, but I wonder how many South Carolinians support it off our state’s beaches.  There’s not that much oil to be had out there (compare the yearly usage in the link and the total reserves), and there’s a risk of real damage to one of South Carolina’s biggest industries – tourism – if something goes wrong.

Increase energy efficiency

Increase energy efficiency

Now remember, #2 above was to remove “burdensome regulations”.  But an across-the-board decision for all state agencies to reduce energy consumption by 20% is okay?  And what does this do to agencies that were already operating efficiently?

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for energy efficiency.  But I find it hypocritical to let industry off the hook, here, while putting a regulation on state agencies that industries would be up in arms over if it applied to them.

Improve our infrastructure

Improve our infrastructure

I agree wholeheartedly with this.  Our roads are lousy, and there are no usable public transit systems in the state.  Even the tourism industry is probably getting hurt by the fact that there’s no good way to get around our tourist attractions.  (Been to Myrtle Beach lately?)

If we lived in a world where magic road fairies come and build bridges, trains, and roads while we slept, then we would be in great shape!  But in the real South Carolina, improving our dilapidated infrastructure is going to cost money.  Big money.

Workforce development in education

Workforce development in education

This seems more like a forced effort to rail against “bureaucracy” than an actual plan to do anything, but I wonder if any South Carolina politicians (Republican or Democratic) would consider a system like the one in Switzerland, where apprenticeships and technical training are common?

But even if there is too much “bureaucracy” in our education system, it’s unlikely that you’d be able to fire enough administrators to have enough money to upgrade facilities, let alone develop new training programs.  So we’ll need more money.

Develop a read map

Develop a read map

Well, just so long as it’s not a timetable!

Work for more cooperation, less politics

Work for more cooperation, less politics

This is about as content-free a point as #8, but I can’t resist a little more snark.

Perhaps if we elect more Democrats there will be less squabbling between the Republicans in our legislature and the Republican in the governor’s mansion?  Or, at least, the squabbles will be less important.

That’s the last step of the plan.  So what was #1 on the list of nine things the Republicans want to do to make South Carolina better?

Think about it.

What’s the Republican solution to everything?

Cut taxes

Cut taxes

Cut taxes!  To get the money needed to rebuild our infrastructure (#6), we’ll … cut taxes!  To get the money needed to update our state agencies with newer energy efficient technologies (#5), we’ll … cut taxes!  To get the money necessary to overhaul the state’s educational system (#7) we’ll … cut taxes!  And the magic road fairies will take care of the rest.

About taxes in South Carolina:  Our taxes are rather middle-of-the-road.  We’re not a state with a huge tax burden in the first place, so all we achieve with more tax cuts is busting our state budget – even worse than it is now.  Balancing it, then, means that we’ll have to cut services.

And we have cut services.  That’s a shame, because it’s during trying economic times that we need these services the most.  Services like health care, well-maintained roads, and up-to-date educational facilities.

Remember, when you’re in the voting booth, who got us into this mess in the first place.  It’s easy – they’ll be identified with the letter (R).

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.)