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#35366 - 01/28/08 04:46 PM Re: Vote [Re: Daniel]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5971
Loc: 212 land
Daniel, you made the best case contra Clinton I've ever read -- op-ed quality.
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#35374 - 01/28/08 08:36 PM Re: Vote [Re: oenophore]
Daniel Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
Thanks. I've thought about blogging ...

As Chris Matthews said last week (he's a blowhard, but an entertaining blowhard), the Clinton mantra has always been to win first and deal with the problems later. But I think the way one wins can lock you into a position where it's hard to get anything done.

I thought her holiday ad was, as one pundit said, "cringe-worthy." She puts cards on wrapped gifts labeled "Universal Health Care," "Alternative Energy," "Middle Class Tax Breaks," and "Universal Pre-K," as if these programs come from the munificence of the government without any input or involvement on our part.

I think that's precisely the wrong message. We need to realize that government is not this abstract, alien entity. Government isn't "them," it's us, the sum of our desires and our willingness to act on them. Those programs don't come to us out of the void; they will come to us if we're willing to do something to help make them happen. They're not given by the government; they're given by us to ourselves through a collective effort.

And both sides play on the alienation fantasy. Conservatives believe tax cuts pay for themselves, so there's no corresponding budget cuts that might turn people off. They talk about supporting the troops, but don't ask any of us to do anything that will provide real help to those serving in the field. And I've been similarly critical regarding Democrats on the recent children's health care proposal: what does it say about us that we believe in this program so strongly that we want smokers to pay for it? I made this point at a fundraiser with a Senator; someone at the table asked what would happen if the public were asked to pay and most of them said no. I replied that then we shouldn't have the program. And that wouldn't be the Senator's fault; that would be my fault for not trying to convince more people that the program was worth paying for.

I think that if we're going to address the serious issues facing our nation, we have to ask politicians to change the political question from asking us "what do you want?" to "what are you willing to do?" Really supporting the troops is opening up your wallet and saying here, buy some body armor. Really supporting alternative energy is saying that I'll support an increase in the gas tax so that people will buy more fuel-efficient vehicles (if the price of gas goes up 40%, no one pays a penny more to drive if their cars are 40% more fuel-efficient, and there are ways of diverting the revenue so that such a tax would not be regressive). Really supporting getting big money out of Congress means being willing to pony up a small amount (probably less than $10 per person) to free our candidates and representatives from private money, because they can't run on nobody's money.

In the political realm, talk really is cheap and actions really do speak louder than words. I'm tired of every presidential candidate talking about how she or he is the real change agent, when the real change agents are the people walking around on the streets. If we aren't willing to do anything about the issues they say they care about, then that's what's going to get done: nothing. And if we think change will happen just because they voted someone into office, we'll be disappointed again. But if someone has the courage to say that we need to be willing to act together to create change, and if enough of us are willing to match our rhetoric with action (something the present administration has consistently failed to do), then we can achieve some great things together.

But who has the courage to ask? The only glimmers I see are from Edwards and Obama. Everyone else seems to want to continue the fantasy that everything is free and the public won't have to lift a finger. Perhaps people aren't really willing to give anything in money or in action to change things, but I think that would be tragic, because what we really can't afford is more of the same.

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#35376 - 01/28/08 09:14 PM Re: Vote [Re: Daniel]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5971
Loc: 212 land
The only glimmers I see are from Edwards and Obama.

I know Ron Paul has a snowball's-chance-in-hell of getting elected, but have you seen his position and compared it with those of the above gents?
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#35378 - 01/28/08 09:48 PM Re: Vote [Re: oenophore]
Daniel Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
True, I overlooked Ron Paul. From what I know about him, he's just about the only candidate who is willing to reduce government, and he wants to do it because he thinks smaller government is better, not just to pay for tax cuts (though that's obviously an attractive byproduct).

Still, with over two-thirds of the budget taken up by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense, and debt service, that doesn't lead a whole lot of room elsewhere for significantly reducing government and people's tax burdens. Most people like Social Security (witness W's failure to make significant headway on privatizing it), and I've seen no realistic proposal where private medical insurance will cover most of those who can't afford it today. Paul wants to cut back defense spending by eliminating overseas bases, but I don't think the public would go for substantial troop reductions. Getting rid of the Education and Commerce Departments won't save a whole lot of money. I think his numbers probably don't add up, at least not enough to offset the elimination of capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and taxes on dividends and interest that he advocates.

Also, I just think Paul is out of step with what most people want--and are even willing to do. Most people have said they're willing to pay more in taxes if it goes to providing universal health care. That's contrary to the libertarianism that Paul espouses. He seems to think that economic freedom will drive down health care costs, but he has no real plan to cover people who can't afford coverage (making health expenditures tax-deductible only helps people who make enough to pay income taxes, and perversely helps those in the upper brackets the most).

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#35382 - 01/28/08 10:41 PM Re: Vote [Re: Daniel]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5971
Loc: 212 land
Given Ron Paul's chances, it is foolish to fantasize, but I'll do so anyway. Imagine a Ron Paul presidency with an anticipated Democratic congress. He could not effect some of the drastic reductions he advocates, yet since it is up to the executive alone, foreign military bases and adventures will cease or nearly so, Guantanamo prisoners will be tried or released, an executive order would forbid rendition or torture, warrantless wiretaps will cease, habeas corpus respected, patently unconstitutional bills vetoed, etc. Ah, a fellow can dream, can’t he?
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#35383 - 01/29/08 01:45 AM Re: Vote [Re: oenophore]
Daniel Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
Paul has some integrity on the narrow-reading-of-the-Constitution view of things. He doesn't believe in the expansive view of the Commerce Clause as the basis for federal power, though that's been Supreme Court doctrine since the New Deal. (He can always support that view as a matter of good policy, whether or not it's allowed by the Constitution.) This is in marked contrast to the present administration, who say they're in favor of strict constructionism yet assert some war exception to the Bill of Rights that appears nowhere in the text.

But I think any of the Democratic candidates will also close Guantanamo, restore habeas corpus, and ban torture and rendition. Plus Paul has come out against one of the most important potentially transformative proposals floating around today: public financing of all federal elections. That, along with nonpartisan redistricting, could change the way Congress works by increasing the presently paltry number of contested seats, resulting in more moderation and less partisanship (plus our representatives could take that third of their time they spend raising money and use it actually reading bills). The Democratic candidates have all come out in favor of public campaign financing. While that's no guarantee that it will happen, it doesn't have a shot under any of the Republicans. And we've got a census coming up; if we don't get a redistricting law soon, we'll be stuck with more awful gerrymanders for another 10 years, rendering 90% of votes for the House meaningless because only 10% of seats will be considered "in play." (If you want to see a legislature paralyzed by gerrymanders and big money, just look at New York State.)

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#35397 - 01/29/08 10:18 PM Re: Vote [Re: Daniel]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5971
Loc: 212 land
Let us pause in our discussion of the presidential race and see this TV ad for a US Senate seat in some flyover state.
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#35401 - 01/30/08 05:15 AM Re: Vote [Re: oenophore]
Daniel Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
And may I ask how you managed to come across that one?!?

(And is Oregon really a "flyover" state? If you're flying east-west, you'd have to land there before running out of real estate. Maybe it's a flyover for the Seattle-LA run?)

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#35403 - 01/30/08 11:13 AM Re: Vote [Re: Daniel]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5971
Loc: 212 land
Whoops, I made a dumb assumption: if I've never heard of the candidate, he must be from a flyover state. That very term is indicative of the arrogance and contempt some from coastal states have for those of non-coastal states -- mea culpa .
As I posted in another thread, it is best that one doesn't know where I get some of my material.
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#35421 - 01/31/08 03:52 AM Re: Vote [Re: Daniel]
mworking Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/26/04
Posts: 764
So the question about Hillary is that if she were elected would she drop the no controversial issues stand and do something. Has it just become so ingrained that she can’t drop it, or will she then start running for her second term?

She’d certainly get a lot more support from me if she had stood for what we thought she stood for long ago. But, what she needs right now are votes, and a lot of weak votes count for more than a few strong ones, so perhaps she’s making the right strategic moves despite what it is doing to her. Then again it is possible politics has destroyed her. I hope not.

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