The 2008 Presidential Election

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Joined: 02/12/2009

OK, I'm going to get political for the first time on this site.

I'm sick of the culture of fear and corporate greed that has cast a shadow over this country. Our standing in the world, our economy, and our future have been destroyed by eight years of selfish, ignorant bullying.

George W. Bush has squandered 225 years of well-earned good faith... for what? A gigantic debt, more enemies than friends, a pointless war, a gutted middle class and a destroyed New Orleans. And ZERO progress on the most important domestic issues: health care, alternative energy and education.

It's time for a president who inspires us to greatness rather than one who scares us into allegiance. It's time for a president who plans for our future rather than one who assumes the rapture is coming. It's time for smart creativity rather than folksy backstabbing.

Here are my favorite rebuttals (with sources) to the McCain talking points.

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McCain the Maverick Reformer? I don't think so.
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For a detailed debunking of John McCain's image as an honorable, selfless reformer, read this:
http://www.rollingstone.com/news

His entire life has been spent pulling strings to get ahead, weasling out of responsibilities and changing his beliefs to suit his ambitions. And he calls Barack Obama untrustworthy? For shame.

His attempts to paint himself as anything other than George W. Bush Part II are pathetic. Watch him try to link 9/11 and Anthrax to Iraq, only one MONTH after 9/11 (of course we now know there were no Iraq connections to either):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlAUj4s6sT0

And he's playing from the same playbook as Bush '00:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa20q2s2BRs

McCain the hypocrite:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioy90nF2anI

This one nails it, and it's pretty funny:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u0sevdGsog

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Energy Independence
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"Drill, Baby, Drill"? You've got to be kidding. A ridiculous catchphrase for a false solution to a major problem.

The shortsighted oil addicts don't have the guts to kick the habit of foreign oil. Even W admits we're addicted, but admitting it is just the first step to kicking it. They hope they'll get one more fix, from a longshot source that will barely affect the supply and not for a decade anyway.

How hypocritical to milk the topic of 9/11 and pin it on boogeymen while ignoring the source of much international tension: OIL. Or more generally, limited energy resources.

As Thomas L. Friedman put it, imagine someone who "...on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper."

Yelling "Typewriters, baby, typewriters!" only reinforces the world's image of the US as anachronistic tenders of a crumbling American Empire.

If Washington wasn't in the pocket of big oil money, we would have invested in alternative energy 8 years ago; today we'd be stronger, richer and wiser. It's late but not too late to retool.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/opinion/14friedman.html?hp
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/09/25/fact-check-mccains-drilling-plan-to-take-seven-years/#more-20503

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Choice (aka Abortion)
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This wedge issue comes up like clockwork every four years. Why? Because the only time voters have a say in Federal law is when we pick a President, and the prez appoints Supreme Court Judges. "On Jan. 20, 2009, six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over 70." (Wall Street Journal)

Almost every president picks at least one new Supie (except poor Jimmy C.):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_judicial_appointment_history#Supreme_Court

McCain wants to take away a woman's choice regarding abortion. Directly from his website's platform:
Quote:
"John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.

Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states. The difficult issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat.

However, the reversal of Roe v. Wade represents only one step in the long path toward ending abortion."

And Sarah Palin believes that rape victims should not be allowed to get an abortion. That's just plain cruel.

You've likely already made up your mind on this issue. So vote accordingly.

Sources:
http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB120209536777639949?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB120209536777639949.html
http://johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/95b18512-d5b6-456e-90a2-12028d71df58.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEN-c0zRH1c&fmt=18
http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/2006/governor/story/8372383p-8266781c.html

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Age
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John McCain was born in 1936. He is 72 years old and in sub-par health. Barack Obama is 47.

McCain has had a bunch of cancerous growths removed, including skin melanomas. He suffers from mild vertigo when standing quickly. He was a vietnamese prisoner of war for five and a half grueling years. He smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for twenty years, quitting in 1980.

In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the average lifespan of US Men at 75.2. A recent Norwegian study showed that 41% of male heavy smokers were dead by 70, vs. 14% of non-smokers.

His 5.5 years as a POW may have been valiant and honorable, but all that torture and abuse couldn't possibly have helped his health.

Any president should have a better than average shot at making it through one term. There's no extended warranty on this purchase. This makes his choice of a VP particularly important.

Did you know that 30.4 percent of vice presidents have become president?

Sources:
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/yourhealth/2006-06-11-male-lifespan_x.htm
http://washingtonindependent.com/9752/a-brief-history-of-the-vice-presidency

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Vice President
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Sarah Palin: Where to start?

Let's assume that we both believe that men and women are equally capable of a job in the Oval Office. If you like/dislike Gov. Palin solely because of her gender, then how is that different than saying that you like/dislike someone because of their race? Voting for someone just because they are a woman is as bad as not voting for someone because they are black.

If everyone voted for the candidate that looked most like them, most would have to vote for Ralph Nader.

Sexism and racism cut both ways, so skip those criteria and her personal/family matters and stick to the issues.

Issue 1: In a 2006 governor's race debate, Palin was asked what she would do if her daughter was raped and became pregnant. She said, "I would choose life," and would support abortion only if the mother's life was in danger.

Issue 2: Sarah Palin believes schools should teach both creationism and evolution. In 2006 she said "I am a proponent of teaching both."

Issue 3: Experience. She has been the governor of a state with a smaller population than San Francisco for 20 months, and her decisions there were not tough because Alaska is flush with surplus money.

Alaska has no state income tax or sales tax, and citizens are PAID to live there because the state is primarily funded by Oil, Gas, and Federal money. In 2007 85.76% of Alaska state total tax revenue (TTT) came from the oil industry.

We deserve better.

Sources:
http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/story/8347904p-8243554c.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEN-c0zRH1c&fmt=18

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In conclusion
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Vote with the facts. Skip the mud. Do your homework and vote with your conscience.

And no matter what happens, let's break the cycle of fear-mongering by giving whichever candidate wins the benefit of the doubt, and time to fix this mess.

n/a
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Joined: 02/12/2009

I've heard a totally valid response to my article that I'd like to address:

Quote:I'm for McCain. If you want to get my vote for Obama give me reasons to
vote FOR him rather than why you think McCain is bad. And I think the
reasons have to be more than with Obama we FEEL better. What will Obama
do for the country or me through his policies (other than give my hard
earned money to someone else).

You're right, I should address more constructive plusses about Obama. It's hard not to go negative these days... ;-)

But I do stand by my point that McCain's policies are not so different than the last eight years. The differences are scant regarding deregulation and taxation. Surely we can agree that fiscal policy has derailed, and I believe McCain's proposals are not enough.

And you're right, I should address the direct economic impact on individuals, including all tax brackets, not just the bottom 95%. Fair is fair.

How this election impacts the individual begins with the big picture, and (sorry) some history. Then I'll get to Obama's solutions, with his details on each issue:
https://www.barackobama.com/about/
https://www.barackobama.com/static/Flyers/ObamaBlueprintForChange.pdf.zip/

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Your wallet, and tax rates on the top bracket
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Under President Bush, the last few years have been a once-in-a-lifetime fire sale for the top 1-2%. Consider these charts showing the top-bracket tax rate over the years:

http://www.truthandpolitics.org/top-rates-graph.php
http://www.truthandpolitics.org/top-rates.php
http://www.michaelshum.com/content.cfm?ContentID=1293

Historically, the top bracket rate has only been lower twice: during the Great Depression, and under Bush the First. But the bracket cutoff thresholds varied. And some argue that tax cuts for the rich trickle down to the rest of us.

So consider the share of total income that the top 0.1% have gotten, overlayed with the top tax rate:
http://visualizingeconomics.com/2007/03/24/us-income-of-top-01-percent-vs-marginal-tax-rate/

Does that seem right? It ain't "trickling down"! Those earning over $250,000 a year should be happy they had a temporary tax break. It's not an entitlement.

Obama will close the top 2%'s loopholes, and rollback the tax rate to more closely mirror the historical norm.

OK, so what's in it specifically for you? A few examples:

Obama will give a married couple making $150,000 a tax cut of $1000, while McCain would give them no cut!

And, "Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year."

Oh, but what about capital gains? "Families with incomes below $250,000 will continue to pay the capital gains rates that they pay today."

Dividends? "The top dividends [tax] rate for people making over $250,000 would be set at 20 percent. Dividends will not return to being taxed at ordinary income tax rates. [That] would be lower than all but 5 of the last 92 years we have been taxing dividends."

Estate tax: "The estate tax would be effectively repealed for 99.7 percent of estates. For the remaining 0.3% of estates over $7 million per couple, Obama will retain a rate of 45%."

Obama's official position with more case examples:
https://www.barackobama.com/taxes/
https://www.barackobama.com/pdf/taxes/Factsheet_Tax_Plan_FINAL.pdf/
https://www.barackobama.com/pdf/taxes/Tax_Plan_Comparison_FINAL.pdf/

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The Deficit
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This topic gets ignored because it's boring. But these simple 30-second video graphs illustrate the magnitude of the skyrocketing debt:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGgjU-h_xQw&fmt=18
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FSoXKapKQs&fmt=18
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZlmqx8CNKc&fmt=18
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp8ZmQMCtqA&fmt=18
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uieHQOJjLfs

Like a business, the US economy must not go bankrupt or become indebted to the world. The ballooning debt will hit everyone in every tax bracket, straight in their wallet.

Obama has proposed a number of solutions:
https://www.barackobama.com/issues/fiscal/
https://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/fiscal/ObamaPolicy_Fiscal.pdf/

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Health Care, Energy independence
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These topics are really important, and big. Too big to summarize. Just read the Blueprint for Change, sections 1:6-1:9 and 1:24-1:27, or the full plans here:
https://www.barackobama.com/pdf/HealthPlanFull.pdf/
http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy
https://www.barackobama.com/pdf/factsheet_energy_speech_080308.pdf/

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The validity of inspiration
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I'm a numbers guy. But it's valid to point out the importance of an inspiring leader. The President's job is more than just being a wonk OR being a ribbon cutter. Of course we need good ideas and decisions. And we need strong defense from actual enemies.

But we also need a confident figurehead to rally us to strive for greatness. And we do NOT need fear-mongering about trumped-up barbarians at our gate.

For all these reasons, I believe Obama's the right pick.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

n/a
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Joined: 02/12/2009

Another reply,
Quote:This is interesting--thanks. I think we, as a country, have to be
careful about taxing the "wealthy" either corporations or individuals
because they already pay the overwhelming majority of taxes in the
country and without them creating jobs and wealth we don't have
anything. I don't want this country becoming what a lot of Europe has
become with very high taxes with a paternalistic government. I am very
worried about an all "D" government at this time especially with Nancy
Pelosi running the House. I don't think Presidents should take all the
blame--or credit--for the economy and I think the deregulation claim is
overblown. The Sar-Box post Enron law was sold as a vast regulation of
corporate America and yet we still have what is happening. You can't
legislate stupidity and greed--but I agree you can regulate it better.

Obama is a good candidate but I have difficulty knowing that he was in
the Senate just a few years ago and his history is to ride the fence
hoping to please everyone which you can't do.

I'll do some more reading.

And my response:

I'm on the same page about at least one specific point: the separation of power. When one party controls all three branches, it's trouble. And, unchecked power is exactly what got us in our current mess.

This election will clearly be a reactionary swing in response to what has been a pretty far-right era. But if the Ds take it all on the 4th, will they feel compelled to go equally as far to the left as a reaction?

The US gov has lasted this long because it corrects itself if it leans too far in any direction. And the reactions are equal and opposite to the extremism of the times.

The farther out things get, the bigger the swing back. Even undereducated, apathetic, non-voting America eventually votes extremists out. And that same America is going so far as to elect a black President.

I tried to find a nice color-coded chart showing the control of the branches through history, to see if the trend has been gradual shifts or total three-branch changeovers. The closest I found were these (the first also shows da Pres's party)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_divisions_of_United_States_Congresses

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Speakers_of_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_leaders_of_the_United_States_Senate

There might be an argument that for the last 30 years or so, eras of Legislative control kinda swing in reaction against the last president's party. Not sure.

And Republicans have stacked the Supreme Court for 40 years:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_judicial_appointment_history#Supreme_Court

Quote: [Obama's] history is to ride the fence hoping to please everyone which you can't do.

In other words, seeking consensus? Shouldn't that really be the goal of our government? I think it's a cop-out to give up on consensus and head towards either fringe, hoping to get all you can until the next pendulum swing. If you can't please everyone, give up and just please yourself? That's selfish and divisive.

In theory, The President should try to please as much of the population as they can, which means riding the fence. If you try too hard to just please one side of the aisle, this happens:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gallup_Poll-Approval_Rating-George_W_Bush.png

As for taxing the wealthy: trickle-down economics is a sham. I'd welcome some scientific proof. The concept assumes that increased GDP benefits everyone. But it hasn't been proven to do so. The only thing it has proven to do is exactly the opposite: it shrinks the percentage of the population that holds an ever-growing percentage of wealth.

http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t106/OnlyObvious/misc/the_top_1_Pct.jpg
http://bp1.blogger.com/_JY-rIL8plNM/R2LwUTQkPKI/AAAAAAAAACs/eOqPlhjOJ78/s1600-h/Slide2.JPG
http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/images/wealth_distribution.jpg

Here's an interesting tidbit I found:

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that "trickle-down economics" had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name "horse and sparrow theory." He wrote, "Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows." Galbraith claimed that the horse and sparrow theory was partly to blame for the Panic of 1896.
(from wikipedia on "trickle-down")

n/a
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