From The NY Times:

Mr. McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” that President Obama should sit down with Republican leaders and begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation’s health care system such as overhauling medical malpractice lawsuits, allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from a company in another state, and granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own.

My opinion of John McCain has gone completely south. What an obnoxious thing to say. As senator Richard Durbin pointed out Obama tried to get Republicans to join him in reforming a system that abused the American public and they wouldn’t have any of it. What’s more he pointed out that “170 Republican amendments had been accepted.” Durbin called McCain’s statement improper. That’s being to kind, it is an outright lie.

More importantly, these ideas do not help the American public at all. Changing medical malpractice laws won’t make insurance companies stop dropping sick people and denying healthcare. All of these “ideas” only help lower the cost of insuring people, but only a very silly person would think that’ll translate to lower costs for Americans. It’ll translate to more profits, unless they get some federal pressure.

The most insulting of all the ideas is tax credit for people buying their own insurance. If you don’t make a lot of money you aren’t paying taxes anyway. Subtracting $200 from zero means you still pay zero. It doesn’t mean you get any more money back. This may help, in a very small way, the small portion of the middle class who do not have employer sponsored healthcare, but that’s it.

(chart source)


Be a Maverick, not a Rogue

I first started writing this blog post back when the details of Palin’s abuse of power were emerging. I was, and still am, fascinated by the way rogue and a maverick are being used by the republicans.

The New York Times Article said this of Palin:

Since then, her explanations have evolved, from saying that [Walt Monegan] was lagging on filling trooper vacancies and tackling alcohol-abuse problems in rural Alaska to showing an “intolerable pattern of insubordination” and a “rogue mentality” by resisting her authority and spending reforms, sometimes publicly.

What makes all this more interesting is that now Palin is being called a rogue herself.

Princeton’s wordnet says that a Maverick is “someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action” and that a Rogue is “a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel.”

There is no case for calling Walt Monegan a rogue, or at least no evidence pointing to his deceits and scoundrelness. We can say, however, that Palin has been deceitful in her characterizations of Obama. But that was all happening when Palin was still a Maverick. It is only now that Palin has said things that the McCain campaign doesn’t love that the word rogue has been applied.

This doesn’t change the fact that Palin shouldn’t ever hold any public office again, but it does illustrate nicely how the Republican party has been twisting language to stab at anyone they see as an enemy.


McCain Having his Cake and Refusing to Eat it

McCain has been making a stink over John Lewis’ remarks. Lewis pointed out that the McCain campaign has been fostering fear and hate that is creating a dangerous atmosphere. McCain says he is hurt by Lewis’ statement and I don’t doubt that. But the problem is that you can’t go around saying someone is “paling around with terrorists” and then be shocked when folks start yelling out “treason,” “kill him” and “terrorist” at your rallies. The McCain campaign has been deliberately engaging in hateful character assassination. Is it any wonder that people on both sides are getting worked up about it.

Lewis said that “George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.” The McCain campaign is doing the same. Perhaps McCain is genuinely surprised by the people spewing hatred, but if that is true it only goes to show how disconnected he is with his own country and with the feelings of people in general.

You can’t tell people that a person is dangerous and then expect them to respond rationally. I think a lot of folks recognize that the McCain is full of BS so they aren’t taking it seriously, but not everyone realizes that and it’s those people that these messages are directly aimed at.


Watching the Debates Online Outside the US

Don’t live in the US? Then you are probably out of luck. Most video sites ban viewers from outside the US. For TV shows this is annoying but understandable due to “licensing constraints.” However, political debates are not property and those don’t fall under the licensing constraint umbrella. Here in Japan I found myself looking far and wide online to see the debates. Even YouTube wasn’t turning up reasonable results. Hulu and the like banning viewers outside the US is insidious. As an American citizen living abroad it is important to me that I can take part in the political discourse of my country— especially the presidential elections.

For anyone looking for a way to watch the debates outside of the US, try iTunes (search “presidential debate 2008”). You can download video podcasts of the debates from CBS. Thank you Apple and thank you CBS.


Who is the Real Obama

As Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show, the question we should be asking is— Who is Palin? We’ve had lots interviews, debates, a book, etc etc that help us know Obama. We have next to nothing about Palin. The McCain campaign has kept Palin hidden behind a curtain. We’ve heard so little from her of content from her that it scares me. When she has spoken it’s been vacuous, vague, or pointless folky chit-chat. I want to know more about a woman that could be president. I know plenty about Obama, as much as know about McCain anyway. Or should I say knew about McCain? McCain has changed since he began his last desperate attempt to become president. So there is another good question— who is McCain now?


Gotacha Journalism

McCain seems to be pushing the phrase “gotcha journalism” to fight against journalists these days. Both McCain and Palin used the phrase several times in a recent interview with Katie Couric. “I understand this day and age of ‘gotcha’ journalism,” McCain says.

It makes me wonder, if McCain was honest would he have to worry about “gotcha journalism?” I know people can misspeak and are sometimes mis-characterized, but those moments are usually acknowledged by the broader media and the population in general.

It seems unfair to dismiss criticism with a catchy phrase. It seems doubly disingenuous when it is done by a person who has run the kind of campaign that McCain has. A look at the PolitiFact website, a website dedicated to getting to the truth of things said by both sides of the campaign, shows that McCain has been startlingly dishonest. Further, he should stop trying to create gotcha moments himself. If McCain doesn’t like gotcha journalism then he only has to stop feeding it so regularly. There will always be people looking to point out small contradictions, but those kinds of petty folks are largely ignored. However, when people have valid questions about false statements or large contradictions McCain must answer with more than just a catchphrase.

My advice is that if McCain doesn’t like “gotcha journalism” he should run an honest campaign that doesn’t contradict itself in serious ways.


A Nice Summary of McCain's Lies

I’ve officially lost all respect for McCain. I feel really sorry for him because he went from being a man a someone could kind of admire to being a man that seems grotesquely obsessed with becoming president to the point where he’s no longer even a shadow of his old self. I would never have expected these things of him. It must have been a slippery slope that McCain found himself on.


Did McCain Pick Palin Out of a Hat?

I’m curious how a guy with McCain’s history decided on Palin.

McCain first met Palin only six months ago and had just one conversation with the Alaska governor before offering her the vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket, the Arizona senator’s campaign said Friday.


When I ask if he picked her out of a hat I am being a bit facetious, of course. But if I was running for president, no matter how much I read and no matter how much my staff vetted the person I’d want to have several heart-to-hearts before giving the someone the chance to be the next in line to run the country. But more preferable, I’d like to have known the person long enough to understand her. When I was in college I had six or seven interviews before getting a job a Budweiser brewery, and that was for a job picking up bottles that fell onto their side on the conveyor belt.

So the question becomes, what went into McCain’s pick and why did he choose her?