Friday, September 19, 2008

Answers -- The Case Against BO

As Ronald Reagan once said, "...it isn't that our liberal friends are wrong...it's just that there's so much they know that isn't so."

There's so much you know that isn't so! I'll take it point by point, because there's a lot to work with here.

First of all, the premise of my former post was that Obama has run on himself. He didn't really run on ideology because in the later stages of the primary, he was the same or left of Clinton. He ran on the idea he's created that he is the embodiment of change, that he will drastically cut military spending and move to reduce nuclear arsenals, on populist platforms (a nice word for socialism) that would increase drastically the amount of government spending, on blame-game politics that, clearly, everything that goes on in this world that is bad is the direct result of the Bush administration, and that, most of all, he isn't the same kind of politician. He's going to heal the divide (and the planet) and change Washington because he isn't really a politician...he's a community organizer.

And then we've got some liberal hack running interference for him when he reneges on all of those promises (Get Out of Iraq Now, the Post Racial Candidate, I Will Take Federal Campaign Funding, I Will Not Resort to Negative Ads, to name a few) and begins playing politics as usual saying that, somehow, that that too is reformative and changing! What a magnificent feat Obama has accomplished! He has come full circle! He has changed so much that he is now the same. How's that for a moment of zen?

But then the commenter Matt races in to denounce my idealism, my ideas of how this is to claim, somehow, that we're all the same and that the only differences between parties is who is in charge. I profoundly disagree.

To start with: bipartisan reform. There is one word for two definitions. When McCain says bipartisan, he means, in my opinion, "I don't care what letter comes after your name, if you're willing to work with me let's go...if not, get the hell out of the way". This is the attitude of a man who is above party politics in that he doesn't identify with either party; you can see this theme running through some of our founding fathers, such as Adams or Washington. Like McCain, both of these men did things that made them profoundly unpopular within their own parties. Do I agree with everything McCain has done? Good gracious no. Is he my ideal candidate? By far, no! But he has some things in common with GWB that I respect. The aspect of their character that allows them to go against the flow even when it is vastly unpopular that I respect most of all is their conviction. They believe what they believe and they don't need polls or focus groups to determine that for them -- a stark contrast to The One, who has bent and flopped and flailed with the prevailing political winds.

The second working definition of bipartisan reform is that of the left, which largely means "we're going to do this; if you don't like it, you're a partisan hack, and if you do then welcome aboard". This is the theme of Barack Obama, the Clintons, and founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson. They don't view political parties as an annoying but necessary evil to get things done. They use political parties as a bludgeon to muscle their way into getting their way. For better or worse, Democrats toe the party line far better than Republicans do. There are way more RINOs than DINOs -- because, by and large, Republicans do more cross-aisle work than Democrats. Similar to the fairness doctrine, for some, bipartisanship...isn't.

Secondly, the idea that Barack Obama isn't an idealogue is ridiculous! Look at his political connections (those he has -- his sidelines are conspicuously empty of friends, allies, or longtime supporters). His list includes folks from as far left as can be, including William Ayers and his pastor of twenty years, who is "like an uncle" to him, Jeremiah Wright. Where are his friends? His vouchers for his character? Everyone who knows him, so far, has been shushed up or totally abandoned.

There are no similarities to John McCain on this. McCain has a history of praise from both sides of the aisle over the past two decades because he does what he thinks is right -- whether it upsets his party or not. Did he vote with his party 90% of the time? Sure -- but he also stuck it to them with the Gang of Whatever the Number Currently Is when it came to judicial nominees. McCain's party voting record varies from 67% (2001) to 95% (2007). By contrast, Obama has voted with his caucus 97% of the time. Who is really the embodiment of independent, bipartisan change here?

You want me to cite examples of change? How about McCain's longtime stance against earmarks and pork-barrel spending? Or the funneling of money to candidate's campaigns and districts? Or sketchy deals with lobbyists? It's easy to contrast: Obama has requested over 740 Million dollars in earmarks in his extremely short career (including money funneled to the Hospital that employs his wife and amplifying pork to his campaign bundlers), and has become the Pork Barrel Champion. He picked a long-time porker and Washington insider for his running mate. And in his time in the senate he has managed to become the number two recipient of money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when the list is sorted on donations from 1989 to the present with $126,000 in two short years. The only person that outranks him on this list of dubious honor is Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking committee -- another case study in corruption.

By contrast, McCain has $20,000 in donations over twenty years from Fannie and Freddie, a figure which is irrelevant by comparison. Incidentally, McCain tried to reform Fannie and Freddie as a consponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, saying:

If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.
Unfortunately, the bill never made it out of the committee headed by Chris Dodd.

McCain has never used an earmark and is known on both sides of the aisle as an enemy of pork. He has promised to veto any bill that comes across his desk with earmarks on it. Is this possible? I don't know, but at least it's a start.

Oh, and that bridge to nowhere that Obama is saying that Palin was for before she was against? He and Biden both voted for the earmark -- twice, the second time coming when Sen. Tom Coburn motioned to transfer the funds from Alaska to Katrina relief efforts, which they both voted down.

Moving right along:
It goes without saying (to anyone with a brain) that the current economic crisis we're in is the direct result of excessive deregulation.
I really wish you had the time, inclination, or lack of ignorance (and I mean that genuinely) to realize that the current financial situation of the US is far more complex than anyone can sum up in an short statement like that. This isn't the place to go into it, because it involves complex ideas like commercial paper, leveraging, the paradox of deleveraging, liquidity, inflation and deflation, rates, federal mandates, meddling and lawsuits -- but the short answer is you're flat out wrong. This financial situation comes from one place and one place alone: The Community Reinvestment act of 1977, pushed by Jimmy Carter and overwhelmingly voted for by Democrats. This act was later "put on steroids" by the Clinton administration in their efforts for social engineering. The essence is that the government demanded that banks find a way to lend money to poor people -- whether they could rate it or not. The quick method of how they did this was federal subsidies in the forms of low rates and loans to Fannie and Freddie, who then leveraged out the market. Was Wall Street complicit in this? Sure, takes two to tango. But the Bush Administration saw this coming and tried to fix it, 'way back in 2005, as reported by none other than the New York Times:
The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios....

''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''
Which party caused this crisis again? If anything, it was government meddling in the free market, and then a lack of regulation to prevent corruption that caused this crisis. It wouldn't sting so badly if you didn't frame your opinion as if it were an obvious, absolute truth.

Next...
The only real tangible differences as far as I can tell between these two candidates are their plans for taxes and healthcare.
If you genuinely believe this then either you have no political ideology or you're completely ignorant of the ideology of the two parties. This goes as far back as 1964 when Reagan told us that Social Security, supposedly a government backed insurance program, was actually being funded as a welfare program, and was of course bankrupt -- $220 billion in the hole, 44 years ago. It comes down to who's side your on; the government's, or the people's.

Liberals believe that everything can be solved by government intervention. And when that intervention fails, by creating new and better government programs to right the mistakes of the previous intervention, and so on. Socialism in this country will never come the way you seem to expect it to, in one glorious Proletariat revolution. It comes stealthily, through foot-in-the-door tactics such as social security and medicare, nationalized healthcare, FEMA and Federal intervention to state matters in which they have no constitutional mandate, farm programs and subsidies, or the building of baseball fields, museums, parks or housing, or demanding that Wall Street loan money when and where the Fed decides.

These aren't new questions or problems. The answers offered by either campaign are recycled, too. But the point is that these changes to government are largely irreversible. We haven't seen, ever, a retraction in the size of the Federal government -- or a retraction of its sucking up of personal liberties, either. The campaign comes down to which side your on. As Reagan said, and as is true for every election year, it is "a time for choosing". Socialism or capitalism? Personal freedom or personal security?

Almost done -- stick with me. To deride McCain as a flipper is ridiculous. McCain is who he is. He's a Maverick. He isn't a strong conservative -- and that showed in the lackluster response of the base in the primaries. He's wooing conservatives through Palin, who (apparently) is a conservative. But he's more conservative than Obama, or rather, he's less conservative than Obama is socialist. As for the list of "flipper" subjects:
"pro-choice, anti-torture, pro-gay rights"
McCain has never been "pro-torture". He hasn't changed on that issue even when it meant voting against his caucus. He has a 0% rating with NARAL when it comes to being pro-life -- it doesn't get any better than that -- and exists as a sharp contrast to Obama's record of voting for infanticide, allowing babies born alive during procedures to be intentionally murdered via exposure and neglect, all in the name of supporting abortion. Obama, by the way, has 100% voting record in all three of his years in the senate with NARAL and has earned their endorsement. Who's not to the left of his caucus?

As for gay rights, I'm not sure what your point is -- McCain has a record of leaving gay rights up to the states and despises the idea of judicial legislation, as strong a conservative support of federalism as can be.

Finally...
Ever notice how our side doesn't repeat bottom-feeding, dishonest attacks like that one, even when we have more material to work with?
Are you freaking kidding me? Seriously? I mean really???

Update for 9/20: How long should I keep posting evidence?

Thanks for the laugh.

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