October 15, 2008

Debate Blogging

I figure that as long as I'm in political mode, I should do my patriotic duty and watch the presidential debate. I haven't talked about the election that much because my personal life has been such a clusterfuck for the past few months, but with only three weeks left, I should probably devote some time to it.

This will be similar to what I did in '04. I watch the debate and type my stream of consciousness as it happens. It can be difficult sometimes to tell where my semi-transcription ends and my own thoughts begin, but that's something you'll just have to live with. Join me in the extended entry if you've got some time on your hands:

I got here late, but right now (about 9:09), McCain is talking about the economic crisis. He thinks that we need to reverse the decline in home ownership. Makes sense. How? Taking money to buy home loan mortgages and negotiating with millions of homes. I don't understand this stuff at all, so don't expect a whole lot of commentary.

Obama: We are experiencing a crisis. Really? He pushed for making sure taxpayers could make money back...rescue package for the middle class. Let me guess: Take money from rich people, right? Provide tax credits for creating jobs, help families, provide a middle class tax cut, allow them to access IRA accounts without penalty. Homeowners will be helped with renegotiating, but McCain's plan could help banks more than people...did a Democrat just say that he doesn't want to waste taxpayer money? I didn't realize I was watching Comedy Central.

McCain: Brings up the "spread the wealth around" comment. This should be fun. McCain looks nervous. I'm just going to type MC and OB for McCain and Obama from now on...

OB says that he wants to cut taxes for someone other than big corporations...a tax cut for 95% of working Americans...where does the money come from? And how does he plan to provide universal healthcare after doing this? He says that the plumber couldn't afford a business years ago, and we must make important choices.

MC says "spread the wealth" directly. He wants Joe to spread the wealth, not the government. OB wants class warfare, MC wants small businesses, which would pay more taxes under OB's plan.

OB: He wants to cut taxes...some people could afford to pay more in taxes, like Warren Buffett...OB is basically saying that rich people should give up some of their profit to help people who are in the situation they used to be in. In other words, "you worked hard to get to where you are, so now we're going to give others a shortcut to get there." Nice.

MC just says nobody likes taxes. Business taxes should be cut so businesses will be encouraged.

Topic 2: The deficit will be really high this year, could go to a trillion dollars. Both candidates' proposals will add to the deficit. Won't some of the programs have to be trimmed or eliminated? What will OB cut back?

OB: The rescue package will give taxpayers their money back. We're going to have to make adjustments, and there should be a net spending cut. OB supports pay as you go, and has proposed cuts with spending. He wants to eliminate programs. Again, is this a comedy show? MC is writing furiously. OB wants to invest in healthcare to save on medicare in the future. Energy investments and college will lead to savings. He's basically falling back on his "vote for me based on what I hope I can do" mantra. Give us some specifics.

MC: Talking about home ownership again. Increasing home values will lead to wealth. Getting to the actual questions...we need energy independence to create jobs. Cut spending...spending freeze aggressively...government spending is out of control...stop complaining and give us some solutions. Being prompted to answer...cut ethanol subsidies, eliminate the tariff on imported ethanol from Brazil. He's saying he saved money by fighting a deal between an aircraft manufacturer and DOD...OB has asked for too much money...OB is smiling at this. MC talks too much.

OB: Wants to make sure that we focus on programs that work. Earmarks account for half of one percent of the budget, so they won't solve the problem. History: Here comes the "link MC with Bush" strategy. He wants to pursue different policies, but MC voted for most of Bush's budgets. CHANGE!!!

Can they balance the budget in four years?

MC: Yes. MC says he isn't Bush, so OB should've run four years ago if he wanted to run against Bush. OB increased taxes on people making $42,000. Mayor Bloomberg proposed a spending freeze. MC will balance the budgets...how will you convince the Democratic majority in Congress to do that, by the way? OB voted for budgets that had more spending than Bush proposed, as well as energy bills full of "goodies" for oil companies. Look at their respective records...OB smiling again...kinda arrogant.

OB: Voted to support tort reform, supports pay for performance and charter schools, clean coal technology..."history of reaching across the aisle." OB claims that he didn't vote for the tax increase MC mentioned...calling Fox News biased...comparing MC to Bush again...going back to "we need chaaaaaaaaaaaange!!!"

MC: Has disagreed with his own party on various issues, OB isn't very convincing.

Next topic: Leadership. Both pledged to take the high road, but it has turned nasty. OB has used "erratic, out of touch, lie, angry," MC has used "disrespectful, dishonest, dangerous, he lied..." Will they say what their campaigns have said?

MC: It's been tough. He knows that if OB had responded to his request to have meetings, they could've had 10. OB said he would, but didn't. The tone could've been different, and he regrets the negative aspects of both campaigns, but it has taken unacceptable turns. John Lewis said that Palin and MC were associated with segregation. This is hurtful, and OB didn't dispute this. MC says he has repudiated Republican remarks. He's putting OB on the spot without really answering for his own campaign. He says he will be truthful, and OB has spent more on negative ads than any campaign in history...OB is shaking his head and smirking. You can almost taste the disdain. OB didn't tell people the truth about....lost my train of thought.

OB: We expect campaigns to be tough. If you look at the record, more people think MC is running a negative campaign, and 100% of MC's ads have been negative. [afterthought by CD: Leave it to a liberal to essentially claim that opinions=reality. Also, could this "100% of McCain's ads are negative" thing have anything to do with the belief among certain members of the left that any statement critical of their beliefs is a lie?] This is a bit drastic. OB says they should address issues. This is the "let's talk about the real issues" strategy. Let's see if he mentions what he wants to talk more about. Healthcare...maybe...linking MC to 527 groups...will he say "swiftboat?" Oh, look, OB is linking MC to Bush yet again and answering a question nobody asked. OB wants to talk about healthcare, energy, and the economy. I notice he hasn't repudiated John Lewis yet. Here he goes with "chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaange" again.

MC: Every other ad is an attack on MC's healthcare plan, and objective observers don't believe it. MC says he supports stem cell research. MC seems to have a bit more substance to his answers, as if that's a surprise. And OB is smiling again. MC mentions that he didn't repudiate Lewis.

OB: Lewis is an American hero...he spoke of his own free will of being troubled with what was being said at Palin rallies. Palin didn't try to stop them...is he going to explain what this has to do with segregation? OB said that he doesn't believe the comparison is appropriate, and Lewis issued a "sorry you heard what I said" apology. CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANGE!!! Let's talk about healthcare...when people suggest that OB pals around with terrorists...they're probably talking about Ayers...oh, wait, that's not what he said.

MC: Says his campaign has good people in it and are being linked to a small minority of disrupters. Won't stand for somebody saying that because something has been yelled...T-shirts...MC has repudiated people when they've been out of line and will continue to do so. They've both said that we need to talk about other issues, so can we do that instead of still harping on this question?

OB: To solve our problems, we have to disagree without being disagreeable, which means we can have vigorous debates, but not characterize each other as bad people...

MC: We need to know about OB's relationships with ACORN...OB thinks this is hilarious...

OB: Ayers has become the centerpiece of MC's campaign.....Bill Ayers is a professor of education who engaged in despicable acts...he has condemned these acts...they both served on a school reform board that was funded by Reagan's former ambassador...Ayers is not involved in the campaign and will not advise him in the White House...ACORN is a community organization paying people to register people to vote, and they filled in fake names, but had nothing to do with OB...represented ACORN in making Illinois implement a law that helped people register. Facts should get out because of MC's accusations of his associations being bad...he associates himself with people in government...Dems and Reps...

MC: OB and Ayers sent $230,000 to ACORN, and he launched his campaign in Ayers' living room...Ayers said he wished he had bombed more...all these details should be known so the people can make a judgment...he's talking about the economy now for some reason...this is really fucking annoying...tax increase...ask a different question.

[Another afterthought by CD: Why was there no mention by either candidate of Jeremiah Wright?]

Next topic: Running mates. Why would the country be better off with Biden/Palin?

OB: Biden is a fine public servant, he hasn't forgotten where he came from...dealing with economic downturn...fights for the little guy...will help working families...the "Violence Against Womens Act..." Linking MC with Bush yet again...reprioritize, give tax cuts to small businesses and individuals who are struggling...I notice that OB is still talking about what is important to him and not what he's actually planning to do.

MC: Palin is a role model to women and reformers, and is a reformer. She took on her own party, resigned when she saw corruption...cut the size of government...helped relieve energy needs...time we had a "bresh of freth air." Fights against cronyism and reform...understands special needs families...here comes the after school special tearjerker story. "Special special special." I think he tried to make himself cry a little.

Is Palin qualified?

OB: She's a capable politician who has excited the base...that could have a double meaning...autism, etc. require additional funding...paid for by the rich, I assume...

Is Biden qualified??

MC: Biden has been wrong on foreign policy and national security, which is supposed to be his strength. Had the idea that Iraq should be divided, but now it's being united. National security, Biden has been wrong. OB keeps saying we need to spend more. Why can't we reform instead of spending more? Why did he propose new spending and tax increases?

Next topic: Energy and climate change. Dependence on foreign oil. Give a number of how much we can reduce foreign oil imports.

MC: Eliminate dependence on Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil. OB said he would renegotiate an agreement unilaterally...we can build new nuclear power plants...this won't play well with hippies...we've sailed around the world for 60 years with nuclear power. Wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal, hybrid...clean coal technology is key in the heartland. We can easily eliminate dependence on harmful places. I notice he didn't give us a number as he was asked to do.

OB: In 10 years, we can eliminate dependence on the Middle East and Venezuela. This is the most important issue. We need to expand domestic production and look at offshore drilling. We use more oil than we have, so we can't drill our way out, so resources should go to other energy sources. It is critical to develop a fuel-efficient car built in America. NAFTA...OB believes in free trade, BUT...for far too long...linking MC with Bush again...any trade agreement has been seen as good, but NAFTA should've had more rules to control prices...South Korea is sending cars into the U.S., but we can't get enough of ours there, so that isn't free trade, so the president needs to advocate on behalf of Americans.

MC: Admires OB's eloquence...we will "look at" offshore drilling, but we need to actually do it to show the world that we can do it. Free trade: MC is a free trader, and we need to train displaced workers. "Displaced?" OB opposed the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, but it would help us create jobs...He's talking too fast to handle all his thoughts.

OB: Labor leaders in Colombia were targeted for assassination...the trade agreement has protections, but we have to stand for human rights. Supported the Peruvian Free Trade Agreement because it was well structured. The president should understand the benefits of free trade, but can stand up to other countries. By "stand up to," I'm assuming he means "talk talk talk talk talk talk." People can't get car loans, but auto makers should be held responsible for producing efficient cars. Detroit has dragged its feet...maybe the defense was clutching and grabbing it...we can create 5 million new jobs. Once again, I notice that he's saying what he wants to do, but not how he will do it.

MC: OB wants to restrict trade and raise taxes. Hoover tried it, and we entered a depression.

Next topic: Healthcare. Does either favor controlling costs over expanding coverage?

OB: We should do both. This is the issue that breaks his heart. More sob stories coming right up. People don't have insurance and need coverage. OB's plan lets people keep their insurance, but costs need to be lowered. If you don't have insurance, the option for federal coverage will be there. And the money will come from...where? Insurance companies won't discriminate based on pre-existing conditions...which, of course, means that they won't get to decide what risk they take...manage chronic illnesses and prevent them. "This will cost some money." No shit? But it will save the federal budget.

MC: This is a painful situation, and costs are the problem. MC thinks we need to put records online to reduce costs, more community centers and clinics...obesity is alarming, so we should have physical fitness programs...we need employers to reward employees who practice wellness...what? Proposes a tax credit for people to get help. Joe the plumber will be forced to adopt a particular plan for not using OB's plan to cover his employees. OB will set up a bureaucracy with a single-payer system.

OB: "I just described what my plan is." No you fucking didn't. Small businesses are exempt from the coverage requirements and payments, but large businesses will be punished for being successful and will be forced to pay for the coverage of people they don't employ. Awesome. Families pay too much because of the uninsured. Joe will get a credit to afford to cover his employees if he can. MC's plan will eliminate employer-based insurance because less healthy people will be out of the price range. MC will tax employer-provided benefits. Insurers are restricted by state law, and companies would exclude more people from coverage under MC's plan.

MC: Joe is rich according to OB's plan. Joe should be able to spend his own money. OB's plan eliminates choice. He's not explaining this very well. 95% of Americans will receive more money under MC's plan because they will receive present benefits, plus a little extra. Cosmetic surgery and transplants not included. People will be able to go anywhere in America with their $5,000, which gives them a choice and a chance, rather than having government decide it for them. "Senator Government"...People should do the job, not the government. He's being prompted to stop.

OB: Under MC's plan , there is a risk of losing benefits. The Chamber of Commerce said that this plan could unravel the employer-based system. OB just wants to lower costs. Unless you're rich. In that case, fuck you.

Next topic: Roe v. Wade. Can you nominate someone who disagrees with you on this?

MC: No litmus test. RvW was a bad decision, and abortion should rest in the hands of the states. We should nominate people based on qualifications. He's bringing up the majority vote issue. OB voted against people who didn't meet ideological standards. MC will find the best judges, even if they're in favor of abortion rights.

OB: Shouldn't be a litmus test. Judges should "provide fairness and justice to the American people." Congratulations, you don't understand the Supreme Court. Believes RvW was right. Abortion is a moral issue..."the Constitution has a right to privacy in it." Congratulations, you don't understand the Constitution. OB will look for judges with "a sense of what real world folks are going through." I'm going to vomit. He's talking about a particular case where a woman was "being treated unfairly..." Translation of this whole answer: "I will nominate activist judges, because fairness is more important to me than the Constitution."

MC: We should be compassionate. OB voted against a law that would provide medical attention to a child born as a failed abortion, and he voted "present" later. He voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, which is "one of the bad procedures." Powerful. How can OB be aligned with pro-choice extremists? He clearly voted in direct contradiction of America. What the hell does this have to do with judges?

OB: MC's accusation is untrue. There was already a law that required lifesaving treatment, so the other law was unnecessary. OB opposed late-term abortions that have an exception for the mother's health and life. This would somehow be Constitutional. Abortion is divisive. There must be common ground when both sides can come together and try to prevent unintended pregnancies. He's saying we should tell our youth that "sexuality is sacred." Or maybe we should just give them the facts and let them decide. Maybe.

[Yet another afterthought by CD: I get the feeling that a Republican would be more heavily scrutinized for calling anything "sacred," especially when it relates to sex education.]

MC: Health of the mother is an extremist position. I take offense to that. We have to come together. We must have the courage to bring children into the world.

Last question: Education. Why is our children not learning, and is it a threat to the nation?

OB: This has effects on security and economics. We have to get our education system right. The debate has been between money and reform, but we need both. "I think we need both" seems to be his answer to every either/or question. Recruit a generation (an "army") of new teachers, pay them more in exchange for higher standards, make college affordable. People are too far in debt when they go to college. There will be a tuition credit for community service. And this money will come from the rich, right? Parents are needed. Be responsible, instill a thirst for knowledge.

MC: It's a civil rights issue. We have equal access to schools, but failed schools shouldn't be the only choice. Competition is a key element that is proven to work. Charter schools reward good teachers. Give parents the same choice that OB and MC had to send children to the school of their choice. Competition. Throwing money at the problem won't work. Can't argue with that. Reward good teachers, provide training, improve education. Student loans should be available and payable, and eligibility should be adjusted to inflation.

Should government play a larger role?

OB: We have a tradition of local control, BUT it is important for the government to help. NCLB was underfunded, as was special education. In other words, throw money at the problem. Pay teachers more, increase charter schools, get rid of bad teachers. Vouchers won't be enough. Details? No details. College should be made more affordable, somebody has to pay for improvements.

MC: DC provides vouchers, and more parents asked for the choice. Vouchers, vouchers. NCLB was a great first beginning, but was flawed. We need to reauthorize it. Let's reform and fund programs...transparency and accountability along with funding. Parents...more autism posturing...I like how his whole demeanor changes when he talks about this. My substance meter is barely registering here. Vouchersvouchersvouchers.

OB: Vouchers in DC...interruption by MC...vouchers aren't the way to go. MC's policy would increase the voucher program in DC, which leaves others without a reform policy. What?

Closing statements:

MC: These are difficult times. America needs a new direction. MC has a record of reform and taking on special interests. Define "special interests," please. Tax dollars will be spent carefully. Education should be available for all, spending should be stopped. Votes should be based on trust. Examine the record and proposals. MC will serve the country and wants the chance to prove this.

OB: Bush references again. Is there a "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression" drinking game? Even more linking MC with Bush. "Fundamental change" is needed. We should invest in the American people, and OB has fought for the policies that will do this. It will not be easy or quick, and will require people to come together and renew a spirit of sacrifice, service, and responsibility. OB will work on the behalf of the future of our children.

MC is trying to look goofy while the audience applauds for some bizarre reason.

My final thoughts:

Watching this debate made me feel strangely empty, since I don't particularly support either candidate. I will say that Obama is very, very good at speaking to both sides of an issue. How many times did he say "but" after stating a position most would consider mainstream?

McCain seemed to have kind of a mocking attitude a few times, and his focus was basically on reform and letting people keep their money. Obama just kept going back to "change change this is going to work just trust me change change hope change," but I didn't detect a whole lot of concrete proposals from either, other than the various tax credits they mentioned. I'll agree with McCain on one thing: He's not Bush, so for the love of fuck, stop mentioning "eight years of failed policies."

A rather important point: Despite the aforementioned tax credits, I noticed very little talk of spending cuts from either side, especially Obama, who seems to think that if he takes money from the rich, everyone else will be able to make more, which will then enable them to pay the astronomically high tax rates that will result from a government overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats.

That's about it, I guess. Forgive any weird typos you may have noticed. I read over the whole thing, but I wasn't facing the computer most of the time I was typing, so I may have missed something.

Oh, and:


Posted by CD on October 15, 2008 11:39 PM | TrackBack
Category: 2008 Election
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