Saturday, September 27, 2008

Country Ca-review: Obama v. McCain Pt. 1

Though I maintain a very liberal sensibility, and could be considered by some right-wingers to be borderline socialist, I don't often write about politics on the blog. The closest I get is the occasional Bill O'Reilly humiliation video, which is much more for the sake of comedy than political commentary. However, since we have 40 or so days left until we choose another president, and September 2008 seems eerily similar to September 2004, I wanted to touch on it just a bit before going back to my usual discourse (Diddy and making fun of Jews and the elderly).

I remember the first Bush-Kerry debate very well. I was living around Wilshire and Bundy and it was my birthday. My girlfriend at the time and I were going to go out to dinner, but we waited until the debate was over so we could hear the two go at it. I remember we thought that John Kerry, though a bit of a dud, was so knowledgeable and earnest that he would wipe the floor with a sweaty and primate-like Bush. We were, essentially, right. This was the debate in Coral Gables, Florida, where Bush made his hilarious "well, actually, he forgot Poland" statement. It was the moment when I realized that 1) YouTube had a purpose, and was going to be huge and 2) Thank God this is on coast-to-coast, finally we'll get that doober out of office.

I figured the following day would be filled with broadcasters declaring a landslide for Kerry, a man who had reasoned his way past the blubbering, inane policies of the past four years. Instead, all I heard was "global test." Apparently, Kerry had said that national leaders should have to sit down and take a test before going and talking to world leaders! What an ignorant fool! How dare he say that the U.S. needs any sort of permission to be a leader in the world.

Of course, that's not what he said at all. Here's the direct quote:

No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.


Yes, folks, that's all he was saying. Don't go to war unless you're doing it for a good reason, a reason that you can demonstrate not just to other nations, but to your own citizens. Sigh...and we all know what happened a month later.

So, I was interested to hear what Obama and McCain would talk about. Firstly, I'd like to say that it's at least refreshing to hear two people talk intelligently and respectfully about the issues. Not that there wasn't lying, but at least the issues brought up were (for the most part) legitimate, and there's not of this "he's flip-flopping" nonsense.

I listened to the full debate, watched some news commentary afterwards, and finally went to the FactCheck.org Debate Analysis today to read about everything they said that was in any way misleading, or a flat-out lie. Both candidates misled; McCain flat-out lied several times.

FactCheck.org is a great site. Ironically, the nation was primarily introduced to it via Dick Cheney, who referred to it as FactCheck.com during the 2004 Vice Presidential debate (the one where he claimed never to have met John Edwards before).

They've gone through and detailed every false or slightly misleading claim either of the candidates made. They're a non-partisan site, so it's just the facts. It doesn't take a wizard, though, to see that McCain made more (and certainly more shameless) false claims than did Obama. As a good denizen of honest discourse, I'll describe Obama's misleading claims first:

*McCain claimed that Obama voted to raise taxes on people making $42,000 a year. Though Obama denied it, he did give this vote, though it applies only to single people, and that current tax increase is nowhere to be seen in his current tax plan.
*Obama said Iraq's surplus is $79 billion; it's actually $60 billion. Yeah, I know, he was $19 billion off, but $60 billion is a shitload of money. If Iraq was a person it would be the richest person in the world, and we're still pumping money into it as if it's a slot machine.
*Obama said that McCain's health plan would raise taxes on employers, though it won't. It'll raise taxes on employees (!), which to me seems worse, as I'm an one of them.
*Obama says 95% of people will receive a tax cut under his plan. That's actually 95% of families, not people.

Okay, I'm going to leave these alone and move onto the McCain stuff, but I really must rebut this last point. Republicans have won countless elections by claiming that the Democrats will raise taxes. I suppose that's true....if your name is Shaq. Unless you make over $250,000 in a year, your taxes will actually go down. That's the truth. Look it up. Anywhere! I'll make it easy for you. Here are the tax proposals for both candidates, side by side.

That was fun. Now for all the stuff McCain lied about:
*McCain claimed that Henry Kissinger does not support high-level talks with Iran without pre-condition. He totally does. He said so on CNN. Scroll about 2/3rds of the way down the page or do an apple-f for "condition" and go to where Kissinger is speaking.
*McCain said earmarks have tripled in the last five years. They've actually decreased. Massive lie.
*Quote from McCain last night: "We are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don't like us very much." The total number we send overseas is $536 billion, and about 1/3rd goes to Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. So, McCain is about $300 billion-plus off on this one. Much bigger than Obama's $19 billion confusion.
*McCain said he voted against sending marines to Lebanon in 1983 when he had just entered Congress. The vote to send marines to Lebanon took place two months before McCain was elected to Congress. Though he did oppose it, he never voted against it.
*Here's a big one. Not a lie, just really stupid: McCain said that Obama was "naive" and "didn't understand" the situation because he told both Russian and Georgia to cool it, instead of bitching out Russia all over television. It's stupid because McCain is just trying to characterize himself as this super-knowledgeable statesman who's been all over the world, and Obama's just a kid. There are many different approaches to take to dealing with foreign, potentially hostile nations, and I don't think anyone knows specifically what the right one is. To call it naive is just silly. Obama said essentially the same thing that the Bush Administration did! Aghhh...I'm actually taking the Bush Administration's side!
As a side note, isn't it rational to tell both sides to calm down, regardless of who the aggressor is? Does McCain not believe in the "I don't care who started it" approach to parenting? If McCain was a referee during the Pistons-Pacers brawl a few years ago, would he have said it's ok for Ben Wallace to go after Ron Artest because Artest hit him with a hard foul? No! The refs had to put a stop to ALL the violence. It's a perfectly applicable analogy, trust me.
*This one is kind of funny: McCain's been going around joking about how we're spending too much, and he cites $3 million dollars that went to a study looking at the DNA of bears. First of all, let me just point out that McCain was 17 when DNA was first modeled! Secondly, whether or not this study has any merit, John McCain failed to point out that he voted in favor of it.

Gah - so enraging. I'm angry just thinking about it. If you didn't get a chance to watch it, here's the full video below. Also, be sure to check out the University of Mississippi debate Mahalo page, with further articles and analysis.

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