"Um, All of Them"

30 September 2008



UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald:

In order to learn the source of her political knowledge, Katie Couric asked her three times what specific newspapers she read prior to being selected as Vice President, and Palin -- after trying to answer a couple times with her trademark rambling incoherence ("all of 'em, any of 'em that have been in front of me all these years . . . a vast variety") -- abruptly decided that the question was an elitist, condescending East Coast media assault on Alaska and chided Couric accordingly, without answering. How could you mock that other than by repeating it verbatim?

UPDATE II: Apparently Katie Couric's soft interview was too hard for Palin, and she's now appearing on talk radio with conservative Hugh Hewitt. Here are some of the questions he asked her:
  • HH: Governor, your candidacy has ignited extreme hostility, even some hatred on the left and in some parts of the media. Are you surprised? And what do you attribute this reaction to?
  • HH: Now Governor, the Gibson and the Couric interview struck many as sort of pop quizzes designed to embarrass you as opposed to interviews. Do you share that opinion?
  • HH: Governor, let’s turn to a couple of issues that the MSM’s not going to pick up. You’re pro-life, and how much of the virulent opposition to you on the left do you attribute to your pro-life position, and maybe even to the birth of, your decision, your and Todd’s decision to have Trig?
  • HH: Do you think the mainstream media and the left understands your religious faith, Governor Palin?
  • HH: Governor, let’s close with some foreign affairs. It is reported that you had an Israeli flag in your governor’s office. You wore an Israeli flag pin occasionally. One, is that true? And two, why your support for Israel?
  • HH: Last question, Governor. Have you and Todd heard from your son? And how is it on your nerves having your son deployed?

Bill O'Reilly Meltdown

Listen to it here.

UPDATE:


UPDATE II:

Head of Skate

29 September 2008

Post-Debate Analysis From A Monkey Scientist

27 September 2008

I normally don't care for post-debate analysis that focuses on body language, who refused to make eye contact with whom, etc. But let's see what a monkey scientist has to say about this one:

I think people really are missing the point about McCain's failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear--look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior--low ranking monkeys don't look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.
Overall, I think that John McCain performed better than a low-ranking monkey last night (unlike his performance at the Republican primary debates).

One thing that bothered me about both candidates is how they touted wind, solar, nuclear, etc. as alternatives to oil. The problem here is that our use of oil comes almost entirely from our auto fleet and from home heating - NOT from power plants that supply electricity (only 1.6% of our electricity generation comes from oil). While all those other things are great, electric cars and efficiency standards actually address the issue more directly.

Also, Obama's plan is better than McCain's plan on this issue (see here for more).

Post-Debate Analysis From an Impartial Observer

26 September 2008

Jack Cafferty on Sarah Palin

Putin Rears His Head




Sarah Palin Swimsuit Competition

McCain Pre-Emptively Declares Victory

McCain is already running the above ad in the Wall Street Journal. Despite the fact that the debate doesn't even start for a few more hours.

What's with this guy?

Jeffrey Toobin Is Absolutely Right

25 September 2008



How can these people be so gullible to say that McCain has "suspended" his campaign when he's still appearing on news networks, running TV ads, attacking his opponent, fundraising, etc.? What is the difference between this and "campaigning"?

The CNN guy who approves of McCain's quick and regret-less decision-making (McCain also likes to play craps, by the way) argues that McCain will be taking down some of his ads for Friday (although they're set to go back on air Saturday). But doesn't that entirely miss the point? How on earth does that advance McCain's goal of getting an economic compromise done? And won't somebody please point out that McCain has repeatedly said "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should," and insisted that he'd have to hire people to tell him what this Economy business is all about?

UPDATE: This Sarah Palin interview is retarded, and you should all watch it.


The fact that these two attention deficit disorder politicians are so close to the White House is truly scary.

"Thanks, but no thanks"

24 September 2008



Of course it's not true, but she's repeated it plenty of times by now.

McCain's Economic Plan


McCain�s Economic Plan For Nation: 'Everyone Marry A Beer Heiress'

More Palin Embarrassment



Full painful video here. As an aside, I find it hilarious whenever she melts down and can't put together basic sentences - instead, we get some sort of word soup.

Frail Old Man Tries To Avoid Talking To African American Asking For Change

Just a few months ago, John McCain said: "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got Greenspan's book." I don't know how an economist's autobiography was supposed to help him, but oh well.

Just ten days ago, John McCain said that the fundamentals of the United States economy are strong. He quickly had to walk back those comments, and pretend that he didn't really mean what he obviously meant.

A few days later, in a strange attempt to appear decisive and in-control, McCain called for the firing of the SEC chairman. The Wall Street Journal deemed this move "false and deeply unfair," "unpresidential," and demonstrating that McCain "doesn't understand what's happening on Wall Street." Conservative columnist George Will said that McCain "is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high," and accused him of "fact-free slander."

Just two days ago, John McCain was asked about the Bush administration's financial proposals, and he responded: "I have not had a chance to see it in writing. I have to examine it."

Now, for some reason, McCain is trying to grab leadership over the very difficult and complex economic crisis (which he didn't even think was a crisis 10 days ago), and trying to call off Friday's Presidential debate in order to negotiate some sort of grand economic plan (but he's not calling off his appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative). This is the same McCain who has been absent from the Senate since April 10.

As Mitt Romney once said, McCain "doesn’t understand how the economy works." He is the last person to grab leadership over this issue. It seems pretty obvious to me that he's just trying to get out of the debate.

UPDATE: It looks like McCain's stunt is failing.

UPDATE II: According to Barney Frank: "It's the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys."

UPDATE III: Josh Marshall seems to have it right:

"Bringing the presidential candidates and their press entourages back to Capitol Hill won't speed or improve the process of coming up with a good bailout deal. It will politicize it. That's so transparently obvious that it barely requires stating. And of course that is the point.

By going public with his 'suspension' announcement as a breaking news statement McCain intended to make any agreement between the candidate impossible. Contrast that with Obama's campaign, which apparently tried to get both campaigns to agree on a common set of principles privately before going public. There's no logical reason there can't be a presidential debate while a bailout plan is being negotiated."

30 Issues in 30 Days: The Constitution

30 Issues in 30 Days: Campaign Finance

23 September 2008

30 Issues in 30 Days: Will Your Vote Count?

22 September 2008



Brian Lehrer is covering 30 issues in the next 30 days. Get into it.

Why I'm Voting For Barack Obama

21 September 2008

[I will be updating and adding to this list a lot between now and November]

I. Energy Policy:

  • Summary: This is one of the most important issues for me in the 2008 election. As I see it, we need to reach three goals: (1) change our auto fleet so that it is no longer dependent on oil as a fuel source; (2) reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our power plants; and (3) make sure that our energy policy isn't written by industry lobbyists, and that it doesn't ignore informed expert opinions. These are all tough goals to reach, and each will require a future President to be both honest and aggressive.
  • (1) Dependence on Oil: With respect to the first goal (which is long-term), Obama simply has a better plan. First of all, Obama will increase fuel efficiency standards by 4% every year. This is a very important step, and is really integral to reducing our dependence on oil. McCain, on the other hand, only promises to enforce existing fuel economy standards. In fact, he has actively opposed increasing fuel economy standards in the past (in 2003 and 2005). This is simply bad policy. Without updating our fuel economy standards, we'll continue to be the world's largest consumer of oil. McCain's hands-off approach means more fuel-inefficient cars, and more oil consumption for the foreseeable future. This approach simply hasn't worked for the past 20 years. If we keep this hands-off approach up, we'll only get hit harder by future price shocks.

    In addition to fuel economy, Obama also supports Amtrak funding and increased public transportation. McCain does not. In fact, he has actively opposed increased public transportation funding, and has attempted for years to dissolve Amtrak.

    Both candidates propose tax credits for the purchase of efficient vehicles, but Obama's proposal is better (it's $2,000 more than McCain's, and not as restrictive in where it applies). This is important, because the best end-result we could hope for is plug-in electric vehicles that cost less than traditional gas-powered vehicles. Tax credits are important because they encourage both investment and future purchases.

    McCain gets some points for his "$300 Million Prize To Improve Battery Technology For Full Commercial Development Of Plug-In Hybrid And Fully Electric Automobiles," but Obama still has better investments to promote similar technologies and make electric cars commercially available.

    In addition to falling short on these important issues, McCain has made a big lie the centerpiece of his energy plan. McCain has repeatedly told the public that drilling in the protected OCS areas would lead to consumers "pay[ing] less" at the pump. It wouldn't, and McCain is lying when he says that it would. In reality, the Department of Energy estimates that OCS drilling in the protected areas would only result in an additional 200,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production (in the year 2030, by their estimates). This, they say, would have an "insignificant" impact on the price of gas. Even the National Petroleum Council (which exists "to represent the views of the oil and natural gas industries") only argues (unrealistically) that we would see an extra 900,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production in the year 2025. When you compare that to a world market that currently consumes 86 million barrels of oil per day today (and will consume much more in 2025 and 2030), that works out - at best - to a savings of pennies per gallon. "Insignificant" is the right word. Yet McCain has consistently pretended that he has the power to reduce the price of gas by tapping these "insignificant" resources. If he wants to argue that this will reduce our trade deficit, that's one thing (though not the most compelling argument). But to lie about its effect on the price of gas is ridiculous.

    McCain and his lobbyist advisers have also repeatedly lied about the environmental risks of increased OCS drilling in the protected regions, telling us that "not even Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage." In reality, they did. The Department of Homeland Security estimated the total oil spills at 9 million gallons. The Mineral Management Services' pipeline damage report measured 113 destroyed platforms and 124 offshore spills, resulting in 734,000 gallons (17,700 barrels) of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. You could even see the oil slicks, 10 miles wide, from space.

    McCain also loses points for his ridiculous "gas tax holiday" proposal (which would starve public transportation of funding and increase our dependence on oil).

    Finally, McCain constantly touts nuclear power as something that will lead to a "reduction in our dependence on foreign oil." The problem here is that only 3% of our electricity here in the United States comes from oil. Our dependence upon oil comes pretty much entirely from our auto fleet (as well as from home heating). Yet McCain opposes increases in fuel efficiency standards, and his official spokesman George Allen has already said that "John McCain does not wish to mandate any particular building standards for energy efficient homes or buildings." So unless McCain is proposing nuclear powered cars (he's not), he's simply not being honest about our country's oil use.
II. The Federal Budget:
  • The nation is already $9,500,000,000,000 in debt. This is a really big, but often overlooked, problem. This section is still a work in progress, but for now you can just read through this non-partisan analysis of the candidates' positions, and these two independent fact-checks (1, 2) calling McCain out for his dishonesty/confusion on the issue. This report (pdf) is also worth a read. So is this post, and this Wall Street Journal article (contrast that with this one). Also, take note whenever McCain's top economic adviser says something like this: "I would like the next president not to talk about deficit reduction."
III. Health Care

IV. Social Security
V. General Intelligence:
  • Summary: The next President will be making some very important decisions, managing one of the largest organization on the planet, and dealing with some very complex issues. Therefore, he must be a very, very smart person. He has to be able to think on his toes and quickly come to understand the problems (and potential solutions) at hand. Although it is a tough thing to quantify, general intelligence is one of the most fundamental requirements for the next President.
  • Obama: When it comes to general intelligence, Obama certainly has the credentials. Obama studied at Columbia and Harvard on scholarship, where he received degrees in international relations and law. He even became President of the Harvard Law Review, which is one of the highest academic achievements a young lawyer could hope to reach. Afterwards, Obama taught Constitutional Law (something important for a future President to know) at one of the nation's top law schools. These are things that you can't accomplish unless you are really, really smart.

    During interviews, as well, you'll notice that Obama is very thoughtful and careful to address the questions actually being asked. Even when a question has multiple parts, he'll go through them one-by-one. Rather than mindlessly repeating the campaign's talking-points, he listens, understands, and responds. This isn't the most remarkable feat in the world (everyone should be capable of understanding and addressing basic questions), but Obama's basic communication skills just make McCain's bloopers and blunders look all the worse in comparison.
  • McCain: When it comes to general intelligence, McCain looks really bad on paper. McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class (894/899) at the Naval Academy, and holds no other degrees.

    During debates and interviews, McCain consistently looks like a fool. Whether he is dodging questions, misunderstanding issues, forgetting his own position, or mindlessly falling back on talking points, McCain has an uncanny ability to make me cringe. Just look at these clips:






    McCain didn't make it into politics based on his big ideas or intellectual credentials. He made it there based on his compelling personal story.

VI. Temperament and Diplomacy
:
  • Summary: In the world of politics and diplomacy, you won't be in agreement with all of the people all of the time. Especially on the global scale, you'll find yourself in situations where compromise is necessary. You can't just be an irrational hot-head. You need to keep your bearings and keep the peace without unnecessarily making concessions to irrational positions. It's a tough balance to strike, and a tough thing to predict. Nonetheless, it is one of the most important traits for a potential President to possess, and we can get an idea of how a future President would act by looking back at their past efforts to behave as adults.
  • McCain: Although McCain has indeed taken some positions contrary to that of his party (although he's pretty much flip-flopped back on all of those by now), he has often been inflexible and undiplomatic in those contrary positions.

    For example, McCain once bucked his party on immigration reform (though he has since flip-flopped back on the issue). However, in bipartisan meetings to negotiate the bill, Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) raised some objections to the judicial appeals process for immigrants. McCain exploded at Cornyn, shouting "Fuck you! I know more about this than anyone in the room!" He added, "This is chickenshit stuff!"

    On a separate occasion, during a select committee meeting in the Senate, McCain "mocked Grassley to his face and used a profanity to describe him" (Chuck Grassley is a Republican Senator from Iowa, who was at the same meeting). After Grassley requested an apology, McCain stood up from his chair and refused to show Grassley any civility. Instead, "[t]here was some shouting and shoving," which Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) had to break up. McCain called Grassley "a fucking jerk" and they stopped talking altogether for a long time.

    The list goes on. Pretty much everyone who has worked with McCain in the Senate agrees. That's why he saw so little support from the GOP during his last run for President. Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) has said "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him." So when it comes to reaching across the aisle and engaging in diplomacy, I doubt that McCain would seriously do either.

    In addition to these temper tantrums, McCain has made some childish formulations of how he would conduct his diplomacy. For example, at the height of Sunni/Shia violence in Iraq, McCain said this: "One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit.’ " He has also insulted
  • Obama: This subsection is a work in progress. For now, I recommend reading through this FOX News article (seriously).
VII. Federal Agency Appointments
  • This section is a work in progress.
VIII. Federal Judges
  • This section is a work in progress.
IX. The First Amendment and Civil Rights
  • Free Speech: Take note that McCain pushed to ban flag burning, and Palin repeatedly pestered her town librarian to find out how she could go about banning books (asking her on three separate occasions about it). Keep in mind that at the same time, Palin's church was pushing to remove the book "Pastor I Am Gay" from bookstores. When the librarian refused to comply, Palin said that she would be fired (for not fully supporting Palin). Palin now says (implausibly) that she was only asking a "rhetorical" question (on three separate occasions). That is absurd on its face, and any thinking adult should find it obvious that Palin is now lying.
  • Church and State: The United States Constituion only mentions religion twice. First, it says this: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" (Article VI). Second, it says this: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" (The First Amendment). Just to underscore the point, Congress unanimously signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, saying this: "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." The reason for this separation, as stated by James Madison (father of the Constitution), is that "religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together." When James Madison objected to a bill granting public land to a Baptist church, this is what he told the protesters: "Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself."

    John McCain, on the other hand, says things like this: "The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." This comment is precisely backwards. Whether he is insincerely pandering to what he thinks people want to hear (as the BeliefNet interviewer himself suspected) or truly clueless, I think that we have to hold McCain accountable for his off-the-wall wrongness.

    McCain also says equally absurd things about the United States being "a nation founded on Christian principles." If he really believes this, I'd like for McCain to explain a few things. Which religious belief informed the Founding Fathers to create a Democracy? That concept is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

    Which religious belief informed the Founding Fathers to allow freedom of speech and of the press? That concept is nowhere to be found in the Bible, which actually advocates the death penalty for heresy ("anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death").

    Which religious belief informed the Founding Fathers to create a system of checks and balances? Separation of powers? Bicameralism? Those concepts are totally alien to the Bible, and are secular in origin.

    I'm really getting tired of people like John McCain trying to pretend that the Constitution was based off of the Christian Bible. It wasn't. The United States government is a completely separate institution, which performs a completely separate function. As a practical matter, the blurring of these lines could lead to a McCain administration funneling more tax dollars to exclusively religious institutions, as well as appointing federal judges who erode the line of separation
  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell: One of the big issues (that has been building for years now) is the right of homosexuals to serve in the military without lying about their sexual orientation. Under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy we currently have, homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military only if they conceal the fact that they are in fact gay. This is an extraordinarily silly (and immoral) policy.

    Unfortunately, John McCain supports this kind of discrimination in the military. Not only does he support it, but he says things like this: "Open homosexuality within the military services presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion, and discipline." He also calls it a threat to national security. As if the military will fall apart if homosexuals tell the truth. John McCain needs to grow up.

    But that's not all. McCain also says things like this: "I believe polarization of the personnel and breakdown of unit effectiveness is too high a price to pay for well intentioned but misguided efforts to elevate the interests of a minority of homosexual servicemembers above those of their units." But it hardly seems like a misguided effort to elevate your interests when all you're asking for is to not get fired for being who you are. Since the DADT was first implemented, more than 11,000 servicemembers have been discharged for just that (many of whom even had special skills needed by the military).

    Furthermore, this is hardly a question about "unit cohesion." Charles Moskos, the principle author of DADT himself, has stated: "Fuck unit cohesion. I don't care about that...I should not be forced to shower with a woman. I should not be forced to shower with a gay." It should be perfectly clear to any observant person that this is a question of whether or not the private prejudices of certain individuals within the military should be sufficient to bar an entire class of people from military service. The answer to that question is clearly "no."

    In contrast, Obama has said that he would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. However, he won't make this a litmus test for his appointees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Eh, at least that's not nearly as bad as McCain's position.
  • Defense of Marriage Act: This subsection is a work in progress. Suffice it to say that McCain voted for this horrible bit of legislation. McCain also campaigned in Arizona in favor of a ban on gay marriage, running political ads devoted exclusively to the issue. Because of people like John McCain, homosexual couples and families will be materially worse-off.
X. Honesty and Integrity
  • This section is a work in progress. For now, you can check out these examples of McCain dishonesty. There is plenty more on the way.
XI. Science and Technology
  • This section is a work in progress. You can read about Obama's plan here, and McCain's plan here. I also recommend watching this video.
XII. Ultimate Fighting
  • I happen to be a fan of Ultimate Fighting. Therefore, I don't like the fact that McCain, a lifelong boxing fan, has made it his personal crusade to shut down the sport.
  • From Slate:

    "When I tell people I'm an ultimate fighting fan, they invariably respond: "Don't people get killed all the time doing that?" But no one has ever been killed at the UFC--though boxers are killed every year. No one has even been seriously injured at the UFC. On the rare occasions when a bout has ended with a bloody knockout, the loser has always walked out of the ring.

    But this does not impress boxing fans, who are the most vigorous opponents of extreme fighting. McCain sat ringside at a boxing match where a fighter was killed. When I asked him to explain the moral distinction between boxing and ultimate fighting, he exploded at me, "If you can't see the moral distinction, then we have nothing to talk about!" Then he cut our interview short and stormed out of his office."

  • As far as I know, Obama isn't in the business of shutting down UFC.
XIII. Abstinence-Only Education:
  • Congress spends a lot of money on abstinence-only education. About $87.5 million each year. Recently, Congress commissioned a study from Mathematica to find out if it was really worth it to spend so much money on such programs. It turns out, abstinence-only education doesn't really do anything: "The impact results from the four selected programs show no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence." The American Medical Association, Office of National AIDS Policy, Institute of Medicine, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, and American Academy of Pediatrics all agree: comprehensive sexual education would be much better. As it stands, we're basically flushing millions of dollars down the toilet, doing nothing other than subsidizing certain groups to proselytize and spread misinformation about condom failure rates. This is madness, and I'd rather not have another President who is unreasonable and fiscally irresponsible enough to extend these programs.
  • It's also worth noting that federal funding of abstinence-only education has a history of subsidizing religious proselytization. For example, over $1 million in federal funds were spent on the Silver Ring Thing, an abstinence-only group that attempted to achieve its goal by handing out silver rings lined with bible quotes. Currently, the Stop and Think program is receiving funds for abstinence-only education in Oregon. This group requires that its supervisors “possess an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ; possess knowledge of the Word of God, and the ability to communicate it’s [sic] truth; exhibit a loving and merciful spirit; [and] attend a Bible believing local church or fellowship.”
  • On this particular issue, John McCain "strongly opposes efforts by the Democratic-controlled Congress to eliminate abstinence-only sex education classes for school-aged children." This is an irrational position, and a waste of money.
  • This bizarre exchange with a reporter speaks for itself:

    Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

    Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

    Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?

    Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

    Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

    Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

    Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

    Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”


Links:

Required Reading

20 September 2008

This article ("John McCain's Hot Air") by former Department of Energy official Joseph Romm is a must-read.

Rick Steiner on Sarah Palin

Video here. It's definitely worth a watch.

Here is the reader's digest version:

Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.

Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.

When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.

“Their secrecy is off the charts,” Mr. Steiner said.

Fail

19 September 2008

Out on the campaign trail, McCain recently said this:

My friends, this is the problem in Washington. People like Senator Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven't ever done a thing to challenge the system. That isn't country first, that's Obama first.
What does that even mean?





UPDATE
:


TRANSCRIPT:
"Oil and coal? Of course, it's a fungible commodity and they don't flag, you know, the molecules, where it's going and where it's not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first," Palin said. "So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it's Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It's got to flow into our domestic markets first."
What the Christ was she getting at here?

The question, by the way, was a good one. Since the 200,000 barrels/day we could potentially see from unrestricted OCS drilling would go onto a world market that consumes 86 million barrels/day today (and probably about 100 million barrels/day by the time we actually see those 200,000 barrels/day from OCS drilling), it doesn't exactly look like OCS drilling would do much to our trade deficit or foreign oil consumption (let alone to the price of gas). The questioner wanted to know if Palin supported an export ban on any newly drilled oil. While this would put the 200,000 barrels/day into our domestic markets, such a ban would probably be a bad idea, since Canada and Mexico could potentially institute their own export bans (if we don't share, why should they?). If Canada and Mexico did that, it would be a net loss for us, since we import a lot more from them than we could potentially get from OCS drilling.

Instead of getting a straight answer, the questioner just heard a lot of gibberish from Palin, who never even made her position clear. Keep in mind that McCain thinks that Palin "knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America."

UPDATE II: This is hilarious.

UPDATE III:
This is what Palin had to say about accepting McCain's invitation to join the ticket.
“I answered him ‘Yes’ because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”
This would all be pretty funny if they weren't so close to gaining control of the most powerful country on the planet.

UPDATE IV:

Fail

18 September 2008

video

This is a pretty sad response to a softball question.

McCain Attacks Obama

Why I'm Voting For Barack Obama

17 September 2008

[I will be updating and adding to this list a lot between now and November]

I. Energy Policy:

  • Summary: This is one of the most important issues for me in the 2008 election. As I see it, we need to reach three goals: (1) change our auto fleet so that it is no longer dependent on oil as a fuel source; (2) reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our power plants; and (3) make sure that our energy policy isn't written by industry lobbyists, and that it doesn't ignore informed expert opinions. These are all tough goals to reach, and each will require a future President to be both honest and aggressive.
  • (1) Dependence on Oil: With respect to the first goal (which is long-term), Obama simply has a better plan. First of all, Obama will increase fuel efficiency standards by 4% every year. This is a very important step, and is really integral to reducing our dependence on oil. McCain, on the other hand, only promises to enforce existing fuel economy standards. In fact, he has actively opposed increasing fuel economy standards in the past (in 2003 and 2005). This is simply bad policy. Without updating our fuel economy standards, we'll continue to be the world's largest consumer of oil. McCain's hands-off approach means more fuel-inefficient cars, and more oil consumption for the foreseeable future. This approach simply hasn't worked for the past 20 years. If we keep this hands-off approach up, we'll only get hit harder by future price shocks.

    In addition to fuel economy, Obama also supports Amtrak funding and increased public transportation. McCain does not. In fact, he has actively opposed increased public transportation funding, and has attempted for years to dissolve Amtrak.

    Both candidates propose tax credits for the purchase of efficient vehicles, but Obama's proposal is better (it's $2,000 more than McCain's, and not as restrictive in where it applies). This is important, because the best end-result we could hope for is plug-in electric vehicles that cost less than traditional gas-powered vehicles. Tax credits are important because they encourage both investment and future purchases.

    McCain gets some points for his "$300 Million Prize To Improve Battery Technology For Full Commercial Development Of Plug-In Hybrid And Fully Electric Automobiles," but Obama still has better investments to promote similar technologies and make electric cars commercially available.

    In addition to falling short on these important issues, McCain has made a big lie the centerpiece of his energy plan. McCain has repeatedly told the public that drilling in the protected OCS areas would lead to consumers "pay[ing] less" at the pump. It wouldn't, and McCain is lying when he says that it would. In reality, the Department of Energy estimates that OCS drilling in the protected areas would only result in an additional 200,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production (in the year 2030, by their estimates). This, they say, would have an "insignificant" impact on the price of gas. Even the National Petroleum Council (which exists "to represent the views of the oil and natural gas industries") only argues (unrealistically) that we would see an extra 900,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production in the year 2025. When you compare that to a world market that currently consumes 86 million barrels of oil per day today (and will consume much more in 2025 and 2030), that works out - at best - to a savings of pennies per gallon. "Insignificant" is the right word. Yet McCain has consistently pretended that he has the power to reduce the price of gas by tapping these "insignificant" resources. If he wants to argue that this will reduce our trade deficit, that's one thing (though not the most compelling argument). But to lie about its effect on the price of gas is ridiculous.

    McCain and his lobbyist advisers have also repeatedly lied about the environmental risks of increased OCS drilling in the protected regions, telling us that "not even Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage." In reality, they did. The Department of Homeland Security estimated the total oil spills at 9 million gallons. The Mineral Management Services' pipeline damage report measured 113 destroyed platforms and 124 offshore spills, resulting in 734,000 gallons (17,700 barrels) of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. You could even see the oil slicks, 10 miles wide, from space.

    McCain also loses points for his ridiculous "gas tax holiday" proposal (which would starve public transportation of funding and increase our dependence on oil).

    Finally, McCain constantly touts nuclear power as something that will lead to a "reduction in our dependence on foreign oil." The problem here is that only 3% of our electricity here in the United States comes from oil. Our dependence upon oil comes pretty much entirely from our auto fleet (as well as from home heating). Yet McCain opposes increases in fuel efficiency standards, and his official spokesman George Allen has already said that "John McCain does not wish to mandate any particular building standards for energy efficient homes or buildings." So unless McCain is proposing nuclear powered cars (he's not), he's simply not being honest about our country's oil use.
II. The Federal Budget:
  • The nation is already $9,500,000,000,000 in debt. This is a really big, but often overlooked, problem. This section is still a work in progress, but for now you can just read through this non-partisan analysis of the candidates' positions, and these two independent fact-checks (1, 2) calling McCain out for his dishonesty/confusion on the issue. This report (pdf) is also worth a read. So is this post, and this Wall Street Journal article (contrast that with this one). Also, take note whenever McCain's top economic adviser says something like this: "I would like the next president not to talk about deficit reduction."
III. Health Care

IV. Social Security
V. General Intelligence:
  • Summary: The next President will be making some very important decisions, managing one of the largest organization on the planet, and dealing with some very complex issues. Therefore, he must be a very, very smart person. He has to be able to think on his toes and quickly come to understand the problems (and potential solutions) at hand. Although it is a tough thing to quantify, general intelligence is one of the most fundamental requirements for the next President.
  • Obama: When it comes to general intelligence, Obama certainly has the credentials. Obama studied at Columbia and Harvard on scholarship, where he received degrees in international relations and law. He even became President of the Harvard Law Review, which is one of the highest academic achievements a young lawyer could hope to reach. Afterwards, Obama taught Constitutional Law (something important for a future President to know) at one of the nation's top law schools. These are things that you can't accomplish unless you are really, really smart.

    During interviews, as well, you'll notice that Obama is very thoughtful and careful to address the questions actually being asked. Even when a question has multiple parts, he'll go through them one-by-one. Rather than mindlessly repeating the campaign's talking-points, he listens, understands, and responds. This isn't the most remarkable feat in the world (everyone should be capable of understanding and addressing basic questions), but Obama's basic communication skills just make McCain's bloopers and blunders look all the worse in comparison.
  • McCain: When it comes to general intelligence, McCain looks really bad on paper. McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class (894/899) at the Naval Academy, and holds no other degrees.

    During debates and interviews, McCain consistently looks like a fool. Whether he is dodging questions, misunderstanding issues, forgetting his own position, or mindlessly falling back on talking points, McCain has an uncanny ability to make me cringe. Just look at these clips:






    McCain didn't make it into politics based on his big ideas or intellectual credentials. He made it there based on his compelling personal story.

VI. Temperament and Diplomacy
:
  • Summary: In the world of politics and diplomacy, you won't be in agreement with all of the people all of the time. Especially on the global scale, you'll find yourself in situations where compromise is necessary. You can't just be an irrational hot-head. You need to keep your bearings and keep the peace without unnecessarily making concessions to irrational positions. It's a tough balance to strike, and a tough thing to predict. Nonetheless, it is one of the most important traits for a potential President to possess, and we can get an idea of how a future President would act by looking back at their past efforts to behave as adults.
  • McCain: Although McCain has indeed taken some positions contrary to that of his party (although he's pretty much flip-flopped back on all of those by now), he has often been inflexible and undiplomatic in those contrary positions.

    For example, McCain once bucked his party on immigration reform (though he has since flip-flopped back on the issue). However, in bipartisan meetings to negotiate the bill, Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) raised some objections to the judicial appeals process for immigrants. McCain exploded at Cornyn, shouting "Fuck you! I know more about this than anyone in the room!" He added, "This is chickenshit stuff!"

    On a separate occasion, during a select committee meeting in the Senate, McCain "mocked Grassley to his face and used a profanity to describe him" (Chuck Grassley is a Republican Senator from Iowa, who was at the same meeting). After Grassley requested an apology, McCain stood up from his chair and refused to show Grassley any civility. Instead, "[t]here was some shouting and shoving," which Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) had to break up. McCain called Grassley "a fucking jerk" and they stopped talking altogether for a long time.

    The list goes on. Pretty much everyone who has worked with McCain in the Senate agrees. That's why he saw so little support from the GOP during his last run for President. Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) has said "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him." So when it comes to reaching across the aisle and engaging in diplomacy, I doubt that McCain would seriously do either.

    In addition to these temper tantrums, McCain has made some childish formulations of how he would conduct his diplomacy. For example, at the height of Sunni/Shia violence in Iraq, McCain said this: "One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit.’ " He has also insulted
  • Obama: This subsection is a work in progress. For now, I recommend reading through this FOX News article (seriously).
VII. Federal Agency Appointments
  • This section is a work in progress.
VIII. Federal Judges
  • This section is a work in progress.
IX. The First Amendment and Civil Rights
  • Free Speech: Take note that McCain pushed to ban flag burning, and Palin repeatedly pestered her town librarian to find out how she could go about banning books (asking her on three separate occasions about it). Keep in mind that at the same time, Palin's church was pushing to remove the book "Pastor I Am Gay" from bookstores. When the librarian refused to comply, Palin said that she would be fired (for not fully supporting Palin). Palin now says (implausibly) that she was only asking a "rhetorical" question (on three separate occasions). That is absurd on its face, and any thinking adult should find it obvious that Palin is now lying.
  • Church and State: The United States Constituion only mentions religion twice. First, it says this: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" (Article VI). Second, it says this: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" (The First Amendment). Just to underscore the point, Congress unanimously signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, saying this: "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." The reason for this separation, as stated by James Madison (father of the Constitution), is that "religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together." When James Madison objected to a bill granting public land to a Baptist church, this is what he told the protesters: "Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself."

    John McCain, on the other hand, says things like this: "The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." This comment is precisely backwards. Whether he is insincerely pandering to what he thinks people want to hear (as the BeliefNet interviewer himself suspected) or truly clueless, I think that we have to hold McCain accountable for his off-the-wall wrongness.

    McCain also says equally absurd things about the United States being "a nation founded on Christian principles." If he really believes this, I'd like for McCain to explain a few things. Which religious belief informed the Founding Fathers to create a Democracy? That concept is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

    Which religious belief informed the Founding Fathers to allow freedom of speech and of the press? That concept is nowhere to be found in the Bible, which actually advocates the death penalty for heresy ("anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death").

    Which religious belief informed the Founding Fathers to create a system of checks and balances? Separation of powers? Bicameralism? Those concepts are totally alien to the Bible, and are secular in origin.

    I'm really getting tired of people like John McCain trying to pretend that the Constitution was based off of the Christian Bible. It wasn't. The United States government is a completely separate institution, which performs a completely separate function. As a practical matter, the blurring of these lines could lead to a McCain administration funneling more tax dollars to exclusively religious institutions, as well as appointing federal judges who erode the line of separation
  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell: One of the big issues (that has been building for years now) is the right of homosexuals to serve in the military without lying about their sexual orientation. Under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy we currently have, homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military only if they conceal the fact that they are in fact gay. This is an extraordinarily silly (and immoral) policy.

    Unfortunately, John McCain supports this kind of discrimination in the military. Not only does he support it, but he says things like this: "Open homosexuality within the military services presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion, and discipline." He also calls it a threat to national security. As if the military will fall apart if homosexuals tell the truth. John McCain needs to grow up.

    But that's not all. McCain also says things like this: "I believe polarization of the personnel and breakdown of unit effectiveness is too high a price to pay for well intentioned but misguided efforts to elevate the interests of a minority of homosexual servicemembers above those of their units." But it hardly seems like a misguided effort to elevate your interests when all you're asking for is to not get fired for being who you are. Since the DADT was first implemented, more than 11,000 servicemembers have been discharged for just that (many of whom even had special skills needed by the military).

    Furthermore, this is hardly a question about "unit cohesion." Charles Moskos, the principle author of DADT himself, has stated: "Fuck unit cohesion. I don't care about that...I should not be forced to shower with a woman. I should not be forced to shower with a gay." It should be perfectly clear to any observant person that this is a question of whether or not the private prejudices of certain individuals within the military should be sufficient to bar an entire class of people from military service. The answer to that question is clearly "no."

    In contrast, Obama has said that he would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. However, he won't make this a litmus test for his appointees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Eh, at least that's not nearly as bad as McCain's position.
  • Defense of Marriage Act: This subsection is a work in progress. Suffice it to say that McCain voted for this horrible bit of legislation. McCain also campaigned in Arizona in favor of a ban on gay marriage, running political ads devoted exclusively to the issue. Because of people like John McCain, homosexual couples and families will be materially worse-off.
X. Honesty and Integrity
  • This section is a work in progress. For now, you can check out these examples of McCain dishonesty. There is plenty more on the way.
XI. Science and Technology
  • This section is a work in progress. You can read about Obama's plan here, and McCain's plan here. I also recommend watching this video.
XII. Ultimate Fighting
  • I happen to be a fan of Ultimate Fighting. Therefore, I don't like the fact that McCain, a lifelong boxing fan, has made it his personal crusade to shut down the sport.
  • From Slate:

    "When I tell people I'm an ultimate fighting fan, they invariably respond: "Don't people get killed all the time doing that?" But no one has ever been killed at the UFC--though boxers are killed every year. No one has even been seriously injured at the UFC. On the rare occasions when a bout has ended with a bloody knockout, the loser has always walked out of the ring.

    But this does not impress boxing fans, who are the most vigorous opponents of extreme fighting. McCain sat ringside at a boxing match where a fighter was killed. When I asked him to explain the moral distinction between boxing and ultimate fighting, he exploded at me, "If you can't see the moral distinction, then we have nothing to talk about!" Then he cut our interview short and stormed out of his office."

  • As far as I know, Obama isn't in the business of shutting down UFC.
XIII. Abstinence-Only Education:
  • Congress spends a lot of money on abstinence-only education. About $87.5 million each year. Recently, Congress commissioned a study from Mathematica to find out if it was really worth it to spend so much money on such programs. It turns out, abstinence-only education doesn't really do anything: "The impact results from the four selected programs show no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence." The American Medical Association, Office of National AIDS Policy, Institute of Medicine, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, and American Academy of Pediatrics all agree: comprehensive sexual education would be much better. As it stands, we're basically flushing millions of dollars down the toilet, doing nothing other than subsidizing certain groups to proselytize and spread misinformation about condom failure rates. This is madness, and I'd rather not have another President who is unreasonable and fiscally irresponsible enough to extend these programs.
  • It's also worth noting that federal funding of abstinence-only education has a history of subsidizing religious proselytization. For example, over $1 million in federal funds were spent on the Silver Ring Thing, an abstinence-only group that attempted to achieve its goal by handing out silver rings lined with bible quotes. Currently, the Stop and Think program is receiving funds for abstinence-only education in Oregon. This group requires that its supervisors “possess an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ; possess knowledge of the Word of God, and the ability to communicate it’s [sic] truth; exhibit a loving and merciful spirit; [and] attend a Bible believing local church or fellowship.”
  • On this particular issue, John McCain "strongly opposes efforts by the Democratic-controlled Congress to eliminate abstinence-only sex education classes for school-aged children." This is an irrational position, and a waste of money.
  • This bizarre exchange with a reporter speaks for itself:

    Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

    Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

    Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?

    Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

    Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

    Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

    Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

    Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”