Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Obama Should Keep Guantanamo Open but Change the Detention Procedures

January 26, 2009

Recently, Barack Obama issued an executive order that would close the detention facility at the  Guantanamo Bay Naval Base as well as review the detention status of all of the detainees.

Here’s that executive order, courtesy of the White House (note, if you want to skip all of the executive orders and just to my analysis, scroll toward the bottom :

EXECUTIVE ORDER — REVIEW AND DISPOSITION OF INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT THE GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE AND CLOSURE OF DETENTION FACILITIES        

   By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to effect the appropriate disposition of individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Guantánamo) and promptly to close detention facilities at Guantánamo, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order as follows:

        Section 1Definitions. As used in this order:

        (a)  “Common Article 3″ means Article 3 of each of the Geneva Conventions.

        (b)  “Geneva Conventions” means:

   (i)    the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3114);

   (ii)   the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3217);

   (iii)  the Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3316); and

   (iv)   the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3516).

        (c) “Individuals currently detained at Guantánamo” and “individuals covered by this order” mean individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense in facilities at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base whom the Department of Defense has ever determined to be, or treated as, enemy combatants.

        Sec. 2Findings.

        (a)  Over the past 7 years, approximately 800 individuals whom the Department of Defense has ever determined to be, or treated as, enemy combatants have been detained at Guantánamo. The Federal Government has moved more than 500 such detainees from Guantánamo, either by returning them to their home country or by releasing or transferring them to a third country. The Department of Defense has determined that a number of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo are eligible for such transfer or release.

      (b) Some individuals currently detained at Guantánamo have been there for more than 6 years, and most have been detained for at least 4 years. In view of the significant concerns raised by these detentions, both within the United States and internationally, prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo and closure of the facilities in which they are detained would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice. Merely closing the facilities without promptly determining the appropriate disposition of the individuals detained would not adequately serve those interests. To the extent practicable, the prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals detained at Guantánamo should precede the closure of the detention facilities at Guantánamo.

        (c) The individuals currently detained at Guantánamo have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Most of those individuals have filed petitions for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court challenging the lawfulness of their detention.

        (d)  It is in the interests of the United States that the executive branch undertake a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal bases for the continued detention of all individuals currently held at Guantánamo, and of whether their continued detention is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and in the interests of justice. The unusual circumstances associated with detentions at Guantánamo require a comprehensive interagency review.

        (e)  New diplomatic efforts may result in an appropriate disposition of a substantial number of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo.

        (f)  Some individuals currently detained at Guantánamo may have committed offenses for which they should be prosecuted. It is in the interests of the United States to review whether and how any such individuals can and should be prosecuted.

        (g)  It is in the interests of the United States that the executive branch conduct a prompt and thorough review of the circumstances of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo who have been charged with offenses before military commissions pursuant to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109-366, as well as of the military commission process more generally.

        Sec. 3Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantánamo. The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

        Sec. 4Immediate Review of All Guantánamo Detentions.

        (a) Scope and Timing of Review. A review of the status of each individual currently detained at Guantánamo (Review) shall commence immediately.

      (b) Review Participants. The Review shall be conducted with the full cooperation and participation of the following officials:

   (1)  the Attorney General, who shall coordinate the Review;

   (2)  the Secretary of Defense;

   (3)  the Secretary of State;

   (4)  the Secretary of Homeland Security;

   (5)  the Director of National Intelligence;

   (6)  the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

   (7)  other officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States, including employees with intelligence, counterterrorism, military, and legal expertise, as determined by the Attorney General, with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency concerned.

        (c)  Operation of Review. The duties of the Review participants shall include the following:

   (1)  Consolidation of Detainee Information. The Attorney General shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, and in coordination with the other Review participants, assemble all information in the possession of the Federal Government that pertains to any individual currently detained at Guantánamo and that is relevant to determining the proper disposition of any such individual. All executive branch departments and agencies shall promptly comply with any request of the Attorney General to provide information in their possession or control pertaining to any such individual. The Attorney General may seek further information relevant to the Review from any source.

   (2)  Determination of Transfer. The Review shall determine, on a rolling basis and as promptly as possible with respect to the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo, whether it is possible to transfer or release the individuals consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and, if so, whether and how the Secretary of Defense may effect their transfer or release. The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and, as appropriate, other Review participants shall work to effect promptly the release or transfer of all individuals for whom release or transfer is possible.

   (3)  Determination of Prosecution. In accordance with United States law, the cases of individuals detained at Guantánamo not approved for release or transfer shall be evaluated to determine whether the Federal Government should seek to prosecute the detained individuals for any offenses they may have committed, including whether it is feasible to prosecute such individuals before a court established pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, and the Review participants shall in turn take the necessary and appropriate steps based on such determinations.

   (4)  Determination of Other Disposition. With respect to any individuals currently detained at Guantánamo whose disposition is not achieved under paragraphs (2) or (3) of this subsection, the Review shall select lawful means, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, for the disposition of such individuals. The appropriate authorities shall promptly implement such dispositions.

   (5)  Consideration of Issues Relating to Transfer to the United States. The Review shall identify and consider legal, logistical, and security issues relating to the potential transfer of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo to facilities within the United States, and the Review participants shall work with the Congress on any legislation that may be appropriate.

        Sec. 5Diplomatic Efforts. The Secretary of State shall expeditiously pursue and direct such negotiations and diplomatic efforts with foreign governments as are necessary and appropriate to implement this order.

        Sec. 6Humane Standards of Confinement. No individual currently detained at Guantánamo shall be held in the custody or under the effective control of any officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or at a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, except in conformity with all applicable laws governing the conditions of such confinement, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Secretary of Defense shall immediately undertake a review of the conditions of detention at Guantánamo to ensure full compliance with this directive. Such review shall be completed within 30 days and any necessary corrections shall be implemented immediately thereafter.

        Sec. 7Military Commissions.  The Secretary of Defense shall immediately take steps sufficient to ensure that during the pendency of the Review described in section 4 of this order, no charges are sworn, or referred to a military commission under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Rules for Military Commissions, and that all proceedings of such military commissions to which charges have been referred but in which no judgment has been rendered, and all proceedings pending in the United States Court of Military Commission Review, are halted.

        Sec. 8General Provisions.

        (a) Nothing in this order shall prejudice the authority of the Secretary of Defense to determine the disposition of any detainees not covered by this order.

        (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

        (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

     BARACK OBAMA

     THE WHITE HOUSE,

     January 22, 2009. 

Alright, so there’s the executive order to close the detention center within a year.  Personally, other than Section 3, I really don’t have a problem with this executive order.  I just don’t see the need to close the detention center itself.  The detention center isn’t the problem.  The problem (and I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with people’s stance on the problem) has to do with whether or not we can hold them while denying  them the writ of habeas corpus.  That has NOTHING to do with WHERE the detention center is.  We could hold them here in the U.S. and we could still deny them habeas corpus.  Or we could keep them in Guantanamo and let them live like it’s a Hilton hotel.  My point is – Guantanamo, the detention center, really has nothing to do with the problem, other than it’s become an image of a violation of human rights.

President Obama also issued the following executive order, to figure out what we’re going to do with those accused of committing acts of terrorism:

EXECUTIVE ORDER — REVIEW OF DETENTION POLICY OPTIONS

   By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to develop policies for the detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations that are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order as follows:

   Section 1Special Interagency Task Force on Detainee Disposition.

   (a) Establishment of Special Interagency Task Force. There shall be established a Special Task Force on Detainee Disposition (Special Task Force) to identify lawful options for the disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.

   (b) Membership. The Special Task Force shall consist of the following members, or their designees:

   (i)     the Attorney General, who shall serve as Co-Chair;

   (ii)    the Secretary of Defense, who shall serve as Co-Chair;

   (iii)   the Secretary of State;

   (iv)    the Secretary of Homeland Security;

   (v)     the Director of National Intelligence;

   (vi)    the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;

   (vii)   the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

   (viii)      other officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States, as determined by either of the Co-Chairs, with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency concerned.

   (c) Staff. Either Co-Chair may designate officers and employees within their respective departments to serve as staff to support the Special Task Force. At the request of the Co-Chairs, officers and employees from other departments or agencies may serve on the Special Task Force with the concurrence of the heads of the departments or agencies that employ such individuals. Such staff must be officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States. The Co-Chairs shall jointly select an officer or employee of the Department of Justice or Department of Defense to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Special Task Force.

   (d) Operation. The Co-Chairs shall convene meetings of the Special Task Force, determine its agenda, and direct its work. The Co-Chairs may establish and direct subgroups of the Special Task Force, consisting exclusively of members of the Special Task Force, to deal with particular subjects.

   (e) Mission. The mission of the Special Task Force shall be to conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful options available to the Federal Government with respect to the apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations, and to identify such options as are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.

   (f) Administration. The Special Task Force shall be established for administrative purposes within the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, provide administrative support and funding for the Special Task Force.

   (g) Report. The Special Task Force shall provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Counsel to the President, on the matters set forth in subsection (d) within 180 days of the date of this order unless the Co-Chairs determine that an extension is necessary, and shall provide periodic preliminary reports during those 180 days.

   (h) Termination. The Co-Chairs shall terminate the Special Task Force upon the completion of its duties.

   Sec. 2General Provisions.

   (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

   (b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

     BARACK OBAMA

       THE WHITE HOUSE,

     January 22, 2009.

Alright, that’s a GREAT executive order there, because if he’s going to go through with closing the Guantanamo detention center, we need to have a place to put the alleged terrorists.

And lastly, we have an executive order dealing with interrogation processes:

EXECUTIVE ORDER — ENSURING LAWFUL INTERROGATIONS

By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to improve the effectiveness of human intelligence gathering, to promote the safe, lawful, and humane treatment of individuals in United States custody and of United States personnel who are detained in armed conflicts, to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions, and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, I hereby order as follows:

Section 1.  Revocation.  Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007, is revoked.  All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order.  Heads of departments and agencies shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all directives, orders, and regulations of their respective departments or agencies are consistent with this order.  Upon request, the Attorney General shall provide guidance about which directives, orders, and regulations are inconsistent with this order.
Sec. 2.  Definitions.  As used in this order:

(a)  “Army Field Manual 2 22.3″ means FM 2-22.3, Human Intelligence Collector Operations, issued by the Department of the Army on September 6, 2006.

(b)  “Army Field Manual 34-52″ means FM 34-52, Intelligence Interrogation, issued by the Department of the Army on May 8, 1987.

(c)  “Common Article 3″ means Article 3 of each of the Geneva Conventions.

(d)  “Convention Against Torture” means the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, December 10, 1984, 1465 U.N.T.S. 85, S. Treaty Doc. No. 100 20 (1988).

(e)  “Geneva Conventions” means:

 (i)    the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3114);

 (ii)   the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3217);

 (iii)  the Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3316); and

 (iv)   the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3516).

(f)  “Treated humanely,” “violence to life and person,” “murder of all kinds,” “mutilation,” “cruel treatment,” “torture,” “outrages upon personal dignity,” and “humiliating and degrading treatment” refer to, and have the same meaning as, those same terms in Common Article 3.

(g)  The terms “detention facilities” and “detention facility” in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.

Sec. 3.  Standards and Practices for Interrogation of Individuals in the Custody or Control of the United States in Armed Conflicts.

(a)  Common Article 3 Standards as a Minimum Baseline.  Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A, section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.

(b)  Interrogation Techniques and Interrogation-Related Treatment.  Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3 (Manual).  Interrogation techniques, approaches, and treatments described in the Manual shall be implemented strictly in accord with the principles, processes, conditions, and limitations the Manual prescribes.  Where processes required by the Manual, such as a requirement of approval by specified Department of Defense officials, are inapposite to a department or an agency other than the Department of Defense, such a department or agency shall use processes that are substantially equivalent to the processes the Manual prescribes for the Department of Defense.  Nothing in this section shall preclude the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other Federal law enforcement agencies, from continuing to use authorized, non-coercive techniques of interrogation that are designed to elicit voluntary statements and do not involve the use of force, threats, or promises.

(c)  Interpretations of Common Article 3 and the Army Field Manual.  From this day forward, unless the Attorney General with appropriate consultation provides further guidance, officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government may, in conducting interrogations, act in reliance upon Army Field Manual 2 22.3, but may not, in conducting interrogations, rely upon any interpretation of the law governing interrogation — including interpretations of Federal criminal laws, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, Army Field Manual 2 22.3, and its predecessor document, Army Field Manual 34 52    issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009.
Sec. 4.  Prohibition of Certain Detention Facilities, and Red Cross Access to Detained Individuals.

(a)  CIA Detention.  The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.

(b)  International Committee of the Red Cross Access to Detained Individuals.  All departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall provide the International Committee of the Red Cross with notification of, and timely access to, any individual detained in any armed conflict in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States Government, consistent with Department of Defense regulations and policies.
Sec. 5.  Special Interagency Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies.

(a)  Establishment of Special Interagency Task Force.  There shall be established a Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies (Special Task Force) to review interrogation and transfer policies.

(b)  Membership.  The Special Task Force shall consist of the following members, or their designees:

 (i)     the Attorney General, who shall serve as Chair;

 (ii)    the Director of National Intelligence, who shall serve as Co-Vice-Chair;

 (iii)   the Secretary of Defense, who shall serve as Co-Vice-Chair;

 (iv)    the Secretary of State;

 (v)     the Secretary of Homeland Security;

 (vi)    the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;

 (vii)   the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

 (viii)  other officers or full-time or permanent part time employees of the United States, as determined by the Chair, with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency concerned.

(c)  Staff.  The Chair may designate officers and employees within the Department of Justice to serve as staff to support the Special Task Force.  At the request of the Chair, officers and employees from other departments or agencies may serve on the Special Task Force with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency that employ such individuals.  Such staff must be officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States.  The Chair shall designate an officer or employee of the Department of Justice to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Special Task Force.

(d)  Operation.  The Chair shall convene meetings of the Special Task Force, determine its agenda, and direct its work.  The Chair may establish and direct subgroups of the Special Task Force, consisting exclusively of members of the Special Task Force, to deal with particular subjects.

(e)  Mission.  The mission of the Special Task Force shall be:

 (i)   to study and evaluate whether the interrogation practices and techniques in Army Field Manual 2 22.3, when employed by departments or agencies outside the military, provide an appropriate means of acquiring the intelligence necessary to protect the Nation, and, if warranted, to recommend any additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies; and

 (ii)  to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.

(f)  Administration.  The Special Task Force shall be established for administrative purposes within the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice shall, to
the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, provide administrative support and funding for the Special Task Force.

(g)  Recommendations.  The Special Task Force shall provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Counsel to the President, on the matters set forth in subsection (d) within 180 days of the date of this order, unless the Chair determines that an extension is necessary.

(h)  Termination.  The Chair shall terminate the Special Task Force upon the completion of its duties.
Sec. 6.  Construction with Other Laws.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to:  the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal “stalking” statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties.  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 22, 2009

 Honestly, that’s REALLY the most important executive order that he needed to issue in order to remedy the human rights / Constitutional violations.

I really don’t think that Guantanamo detention center needs to be closed.  If Obama wants to simply use better interrogation methods and restore the writ of habeas corpus, closing Guantanamo, in and of itself doesn’t do that.  All he really has to do is change the process of how we handle accused terrorists.

Instead, he has chosen to close Gitmo, and that creates a problem: What do we do with the alleged terrorists?

We can’t put them in normal prisons with other prisoners.  Sex offenders and child molesters already have problems in prison.  Can you imagine what prisoners would do if they were around an accused terrorist?  The terrorist wouldn’t last more than maybe a week.

So, that means that we have to build a new prison.  Well, where are we going to do that?  Nobody will want the prison in “their backyard.”  What if a prisoner escapes?  That means that a terrorist is running around.  People aren’t going to want to risk that in their neighborhood.  Obama is going to find it very difficult to find somewhere that will/can take these prisoners.

Personally, as long as the prison was secure (and I mean REALLY secure), I wouldn’t mind having it in Michigan.  We’d definitely have to build a new prison, since we don’t have enough room in our prisons as it is.

Still, I think the best way to deal with the terrorist detainees is to keep them in Guantanamo Bay.  If Obama wants to ensure that they have more rights/privileges/whatever you want to call it, he can instruct his Attorney General to give them to the detainees, but closing Gitmo only creates more problems.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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A Thank You to Our Veterans

November 11, 2008

I know I’m getting this up kinda late in the day, but I just haven’t had time before this (and I’m actually pushing back a blog post I wanted to do so that I can do this one before I have to leave for meetings and stuff).

I just wanted to say thank you to all of our veterans today.  I am so grateful for your service to this country.  Without you, I might not have the freedom to be writing this blog post right now, so I just wanted to take some time to thank you.  And I encourage others around America to do the same.  If you know a veteran, call them up today and thank them.  Continue to pray for our troops overseas, and our veterans who are back here at home.

A nation can be judged by how those who fight for freedom are treated.  Our veterans should be treated with the utmost respect and honor.  I am proud of our veterans, and above all, I am thankful that they have been willing to sacrifice for their country.

You are true American heroes.  God bless you all.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell Endorses Obama

October 19, 2008

Well, this is a blog post I did NOT expect to be writing.  General Powell had made it clear before that he would not be endorsing anybody in this election, so I’m surprised that he has come out and actually made an endorsement.  He is endorsing Senator Obama, but he stressed that this is more for reasons dealing with the economy, and the Supreme Court and the general direction of the Republican party rather than Iraq.  He noted that he still opposes a set date to withdraw from Iraq.

Here’s a transcript of MSNBC’s Meet the Press, courtesy of MSNBC:

MR. TOM BROKAW: Our issues this Sunday: He served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state and was once called the man most likely to become the nation’s first African-American president. He has been courted by both the Obama and McCain presidential campaigns and said this last month:

(Videotape)

GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET.): I have been watching both of these individuals. I know them both extremely well, and I have not decided who I’m going to vote for yet.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: Is he now ready to make an endorsement in this presidential race? What are his thoughts on the major issues facing the country and the world? Our exclusive guest this Sunday, former Secretary of State General Colin Powell.

Then, with 16 days to go, Decision 2008 heads into the home stretch. What states still are in play? We will hear the latest on some new state polls with NBC’s political director, Chuck Todd. Also, insights and analysis on the race to the White House with David Brooks of The New York Times, Jon Meacham of Newsweek magazine, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, and Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

But first, General Colin Powell, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

GEN. POWELL: Thank, thank you, Tom.

MR. BROKAW: We indicated in that opening, there is a lot of anticipation and speculation about your take on this presidential campaign. We’ll get to that in a moment. But in your old business we might call this a tour of the horizon. Whoever’s elected president of the United States, that first day in the Oval Office on January 21st will face this: an American economy that’s in a near paralytic state at this time; we’re at war in two different countries, Afghanistan and Iraq; we have an energy crisis; we have big decisions to make about health care and about global climate change. The president of the United States and the Congress of the United States now have the highest disapproval ratings that we have seen in many years. In all your years of public service, have you ever seen an incoming president face such daunting challenges?

GEN. POWELL: No. I have seen more difficult times in our history. I think about the early ’70s when we were going through Watergate, Spiro Agnew, Nixon period, that was not a good time. But right now we’re also facing a very daunting period. And I think the number one issue the president’s going to have to deal with is the economy. That’s what the American people are worried about. And, frankly, it’s not just an American problem, it’s an international problem. We can see how all of these economies are now linked in this globalized system. And I think that’ll be number one. The president will also have to make decisions quickly as to how to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan. And also I think the president has to reach out to the world and show that there is a new president, a new administration that is looking forward to working with our friends and allies. And in my judgment, also willing to talk to people who we have not been willing to talk to before. Because this is a time for outreach.

MR. BROKAW: Given the state of the American economy, can we continue our military commitments around the world at the level that they now exist?

GEN. POWELL: We can. I think we have to look as to whether they have to be at that level. But we have the wealth, we have the wherewithal to do that. (Clears throat) Excuse me, Tom. We have the ability to do that. And so, first and foremost, we have to review those commitments, see what they are, see what else is needed, and make sure we give our troops what they need to get the job done as we have defined the job. We have that ability.

MR. BROKAW: If you were called into the Oval Office on January 21st by the new president, whoever it happens to be, and he said to you, “General Powell, I need from you your recommendation on where I begin. What should be my priorities?” Where would you start?

GEN. POWELL: I would start with talking to the American people and talking to the world, and conveying a new image of American leadership, a new image of America’s role in the world.

The problems will always be there, and there’s going to be a crisis come along in the 21st or 22nd of January that we don’t even know about right now. And so I think what the president has to do is to start using the power of the Oval Office and the power of his personality to convince the American people and to convince the world that America is solid, America is going to move forward, and we’re going to fix our economic problems, we’re going to meet our overseas obligations. But restoring a sense of purpose, a sense of confidence in the American people and, in the international community, in America.

MR. BROKAW: What’s not on the screen right now that concerns you that should be more prominent in the minds of the American people and the people running for president?

GEN. POWELL: I think the American people and the gentlemen running for president will have to, early on, focus on education more than we have seen in the campaign so far. America has a terrible educational problem in the sense that we have too many youngsters not finishing school. A third of our kids don’t finish high school, 50 percent of minorities don’t finish high school. We’ve got to work on this, and my, my wife and I are leading a campaign with this purpose.

Also, I think, the new president has to realize that the world looks to America for leadership, and so we have to show leadership on some issues that the world is expecting us to, whether it’s energy, global warming and the environment. And I think we have to do a lot more with respect to poverty alleviation and helping the needy people of the world. We need to increase the amount of resources we put into our development programs to help the rest of the world. Because when you help the poorest in the world, you start to move them up an economic and social ladder, and they’re not going to be moving toward violence or terrorism of the kind that we worry about.

MR. BROKAW: Well, let’s move to the American presidential campaign now, if we can. We saw at the beginning of this broadcast a short tease of what you had to say just a month ago. Let’s share with our viewers now a little more of Colin Powell on these two candidates and your position.

(Videotape, September 20, 2008)

GEN. POWELL: I’m an American, first and foremost, and I’m very proud–I said, I’ve said, I’ve said to my beloved friend and colleague John McCain, a friend of 25 years, “John, I love you, but I’m not just going to vote for you on the basis of our affection or friendship.” And I’ve said to Barack Obama, “I admire you. I’ll give you all the advice I can. But I’m not going to vote for you just because you’re black.” We, we have to move beyond this.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: General Powell, actually you gave a campaign contribution to Senator McCain. You have met twice at least with Barack Obama. Are you prepared to make a public declaration of which of these two candidates that you’re prepared to support?

GEN. POWELL: Yes, but let me lead into it this way. I know both of these individuals very well now. I’ve known John for 25 years as your setup said. And I’ve gotten to know Mr. Obama quite well over the past two years. Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic, who are dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think, would be a good president. I have said to Mr. McCain that I admire all he has done. I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years. It has moved more to the right than I would like to see it, but that’s a choice the party makes. And I’ve said to Mr. Obama, “You have to pass a test of do you have enough experience, and do you bring the judgment to the table that would give us confidence that you would be a good president.”

And I’ve watched him over the past two years, frankly, and I’ve had this conversation with him. I have especially watched over the last six of seven weeks as both of them have really taken a final exam with respect to this economic crisis that we are in and coming out of the conventions. And I must say that I’ve gotten a good measure of both. In the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to deal with the economic problems that we were having and almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me, sensing that he didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had. And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired; but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama and I watched him during this seven-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a vice president that, I think, is ready to be president on day one. And also, in not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a, a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well. I also believe that on the Republican side over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower. Mr. Obama, at the same time, has given us a more inclusive, broader reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He’s crossing lines–ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He’s thinking about all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values.

And I’ve also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that’s inappropriate.

Now, I understand what politics is all about. I know how you can go after one another, and that’s good. But I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It’s not what the American people are looking for. And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me. And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we’d be looking at in a McCain administration. I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So, when I look at all of this and I think back to my Army career, we’ve got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities–and we have to take that into account–as well as his substance–he has both style and substance–he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world–onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I’ll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

MR. BROKAW: Will you be campaigning for him as well?

GEN. POWELL: I don’t plan to. Two weeks left, let them go at each other in the finest tradition. But I will be voting for him.

MR. BROKAW: I can already anticipate some of the reaction to this. Let’s begin with the charge that John McCain has continued to make against Barack Obama. You sit there, as a man who served in Vietnam, you commanded a battalion of 101st, you were chairman of the Joint Chiefs, you were a national security adviser and secretary of state. There is nothing in Barack Obama’s history that nearly paralyze any–parallels any of the experiences that you’ve had. And while he has performed impressively in the context of the campaign, there’s a vast difference between sitting in the Oval Office and making tough decisions and doing well in a campaign.

GEN. POWELL: And he knows that. And I have watched him over the last two years as he has educated himself, as he has become very familiar with these issues. He speaks authoritatively. He speaks with great insight into the challenges we’re facing of a military and political and economic nature. And he is surrounding himself, I’m confident, with people who’ll be able to give him the expertise that he, at the moment, does not have. And so I have watched an individual who has intellectual vigor and who dives deeply into issues and approaches issues with a very, very steady hand. And so I’m confident that he will be ready to take on these challenges on January 21st.

MR. BROKAW: And you are fully aware that there will be some–how many, no one can say for sure–but there will be some who will say this is an African-American, distinguished American, supporting another African-American because of race.

GEN. POWELL: If I had only had that in mind, I could have done this six, eight, 10 months ago. I really have been going back and forth between somebody I have the highest respect and regard for, John McCain, and somebody I was getting to know, Barack Obama. And it was only in the last couple of months that I settled on this. And I can’t deny that it will be a historic event for an African-American to become president. And should that happen, all Americans should be proud–not just African-Americans, but all Americans–that we have reached this point in our national history where such a thing could happen. It will also not only electrify our country, I think it’ll electrify the world.

MR. BROKAW: You have some differences with Barack Obama. He has said that once he takes office, he wants to begin removing American troops from Iraq. Here’s what you had to say about that: “I have found in my many years of service, to set arbitrary dates that don’t coincide with the situation on the ground or what actually is happening tends not to be a useful strategy. … Arbitrary deadlines that are snatched out of the air and are based on some lunar calculation is not the way to run a military or a strategic operation of this type.” That was on February 10th of this year on CNN. Now that you have Barack Obama’s ear in a new fashion, will you say to him, “Drop your idea of setting a deadline of some kind to pull the troops out of Iraq”?

GEN. POWELL: First of all, I think that’s a great line, and thanks for pulling it up. And I believe that. But as I watch what’s happening right now, the United States is negotiating the–an agreement with the Iraqi government that will call for most major combat operations to cease by next June and for American forces to start withdrawing to their bases. And that agreement will also provide for all American troops to be gone by 2011, but conditioned on the situation as it exists at that time. So there already is a timeline that’s being developed between the Iraqis and the United States government. So I think whoever becomes the president, whether it’s John McCain or whether it’s Barack Obama, we’re going to see a continued drawdown. And when, you know, which day so many troops come out or what units come out, that’ll be determined by the commanders and the new president. But I think we are on a glide path to reducing our presence in Iraq over the next couple of years. Increasingly, this problem’s going to be solved by the Iraqis. They’re going to make the political decisions, their security forces are going to take over, and they’re going to have to create an environment of reconciliation where all the people can come together and make Iraq a much, much better place.

MR. BROKAW: Let me go back to something that you raised just a moment ago, and that’s William Ayers, a former member of the Weathermen who’s now active in school issues in Illinois. He had some past association with Barack Obama. Wouldn’t it have been more helpful for William Ayers to, on his own, to have renounced his own past? Here was a man who was a part of the most radical group that existed in America at a time when you were serving in Vietnam, targeting the Pentagon, the Capitol. He wrote a book about it that came out on 2001, on September 11th that said, “We didn’t bomb enough.”

GEN. POWELL: It’s despicable, and I have no truck for William Ayers. I think what he did was despicable, and to continue to talk about it in 2001 is also despicable. But to suggest that because Mr. Barack Obama had some contacts of a very casual nature–they sat on a educational board–over time is somehow connected to his thinking or his actions, I think, is a, a terrible stretch. It’s demagoguery.

MR. BROKAW: I want to ask you about your own role in the decision to go to war in Iraq. Barack Obama has been critical of your appearance before the United Nations at that time. Bob Woodward has a new book out called “The War Within,” and here’s what he had to say about Colin Powell and his place in the administration: “Powell … didn’t think [Iraq] was a necessary war, and yet he had gone along in a hundred ways, large and small. He had resisted at times but had succumbed to the momentum and his own sense of deference–even obedience–to the president. … Perhaps more than anyone else in the administration, Powell had been the `closer’ for the president’s case on war.”

And then you were invited to appear before the Iraq Study Group. “`Why did we go into Iraq with so few people?’ [former Secretary of State James] Baker asked. … `Colin just exploded at that point,’ [former Secretary of Defense William] Perry recalled later. `He unloaded,’ Former White House Chief of Staff] Leon Panetta added. `He was angry. He was mad as hell.’ … Powell left [the Study Group meeting]. Baker turned to Panetta and said solemnly, `He’s the one guy who could have perhaps prevented this from happening.'”

What’s the lesson in all of that for a former–for a new secretary of state or for a new national security adviser, based on your own experience?

GEN. POWELL: Well, let’s start at the beginning. I said to the president in 2002, we should try to solve this diplomatically and avoid war. The president accepted that recommendation, we took it to the U.N. But the president, by the end of 2002, believed that the U.N. was not going to solve the problem, and he made a decision that we had to prepare for military action. I fully supported that. And I have never said anything to suggest I did not support going to war. I thought the evidence was there. And it is not just my closing of the whole deal with my U.N. speech. I know the importance of that speech, and I regret a lot of the information that the intelligence community provided us was wrong. But three months before my speech, with a heavy majority, the United States Congress expressed its support to use military force if it was necessary. And so we went in and used military force. My unhappiness was that we didn’t do it right. It was easy to get to Baghdad, but then we forgot that there was a lot more that had to be done. And we didn’t have enough force to impose our will in the country or to deal with the insurgency when it broke out, and that I regret.

MR. BROKAW: Removing the weapons of mass destruction from the equation…

GEN. POWELL: I also assure you that it was not a correct assessment by anybody that my statements or my leaving the administration would have stopped it.

MR. BROKAW: Removing the weapons of mass destruction from the equation, because we now know that they did not exist, was it then a war of necessity or just a war of choice?

GEN. POWELL: Without the weapons of mass destruction present, as conveyed to us by the intelligence community in the most powerful way, I don’t think there would have been a war. It was the reason we took it to the public, it was the reason we took it to the American people to the Congress, who supported it on that basis, and it’s the presentation I made to the United Nations. Without those weapons of mass destruction then Iraq did not present to the world the kind of threat that it did if it had weapons of mass destruction.

MR. BROKAW: You do know that there are supporters of Barack Obama who feel very strongly about his candidacy because he was opposed to the war from the beginning, and they’re going to say, “Who needs Colin Powell? He was the guy who helped get us into this mess.”

GEN. POWELL: I’m not here to get their approval or lack of approval. I am here to express my view as to who I’m going to vote for.

MR. BROKAW: There’s a summing up going on now as, as the Bush/Cheney administration winds down. We’d like to share with our audience some of what you had to say about the two men who are at the top of the administration. At the convention in 2000, this is Colin Powell on President Bush and Dick Cheney at that time.

(Videotape, July 31, 2000)

GEN. POWELL: Dick Cheney is one of the most distinguished and dedicated public servants this nation has ever had. He will be a superb vice president.

The Bush/Cheney team will be a great team for America. They will put our nation on a course of hope and optimism for this new century.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: Was that prophetic or wrong?

GEN. POWELL: It’s what I believed. It reflected the agenda of the new president, compassionate conservatism. And some of it worked out. I think we have advanced our freedom agenda, I think we’ve done a lot to help people around the world with our programs of development. I think we’ve done a lot to solve some conflicts such as in Liberia and elsewhere. But, at the same time, we have managed to convey to the world that we are more unilateral than we really are. We have not explained ourself well enough. And we, unfortunately, have left an impression with the world that is not a good one. And the new president is going to have to fix the reputation that we’ve left with the rest of the world.

Now, let me make a point here. The United States is still seen as the leader at the world that wants to be free. Even though the numbers are down with respect to favorability ratings, at every embassy and consular office tomorrow morning that we have, people will be lined up, and they’ll all say the same thing, “We want to go to America.” So we’re still the leader of the world that wants to be free. We are still the inspiration of the rest of the world. And we can come back. In 2000, it was moment where I believed that the new administration coming in would be able to achieve the agenda that President-elect Bush had set out of compassionate conservatism.

MR. BROKAW: But it failed?

GEN. POWELL: I don’t think it was as successful–excuse me (clears throat)–I don’t think it was as successful as it might have been. And, as you see from the presidential approval ratings, the American people have found the administration wanting.

MR. BROKAW: Let me as, you a couple of questions–quick questions as we wrap all of this up. I know you’re very close to President Bush 41. Are you still in touch with him on a regular basis? And what do you think he’ll think about you this morning endorsing Barack Obama?

GEN. POWELL: I will let President Bush 41, speak for himself and let others speak for themselves, just as I have spoken for myself. Let me make one point, Tom, both Senator McCain and Senator Obama will be good presidents. It isn’t easy for me to disappoint Senator McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that. But I strongly believe that at this point in America’s history, we need a president that will not just continue, even with a new face and with some changes and with some maverick aspects, who will not just continue, basically, the policies that we have been following in recent years. I think we need a transformational figure. I need–think we need a president who is a generational change. And that’s why I’m supporting Barack Obama. Not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Senator John McCain.

MR. BROKAW: And finally, how much of a factor do you think race will be when voters go into that booth on November 4th?

GEN. POWELL: I don’t know the answer to that question. One may say that it’s going to be a big factor, and a lot of people say they will vote for Senator Obama but they won’t pull a lever. Others might say that has already happened. People are already finding other reasons to say they’re not voting for him. “Well, he’s a Muslim,” “He’s this.” So we have already seen the so-called “Bradley factor” in the current–in the current spread between the candidates. And so that remains to be seen. I hope it is not the case. I think we have advanced considerably in this country since the days of Tom Bradley. And I hope that is not the case. It would be very unfortunate if it were the case.

MR. BROKAW: Finally, if Senator Obama is elected president, will there be a place for Colin Powell in that administration? Maybe as the ambassador at large in Africa or to take on the daunting task of resolving the Israeli/Palestinian issue?

GEN. POWELL: I served 40 years in government, and I–I’m not looking forward to a position or an assignment. Of course, I have always said if a president asks you to do something, you have to consider it. But I am in no way interested in returning to government. But I, of course, would sit and talk to any president who wishes to talk to me.

MR. BROKAW: You’re not ruling it out?

GEN. POWELL: I would sit and talk to any president who wishes to talk to me, but I’m not anxious to rule it in.

MR. BROKAW: General Colin Powell, thank you very much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

GEN. POWELL: Thank you, Tom.

MR. BROKAW: Coming up next, Decision 2008, the home stretch. We’ll look at the states and strategies in play with David Brooks, Jon Meacham, Andrea Mitchell, Joe Scarborough. And Chuck Todd, our political director, will take us through the electoral map.

Overall, I think that this won’t really have a huge effect on the campaign for either side.  I don’t think Obama is going to win many more people over with this.  I think that the people that this could have swayed have already been won over to one side or the other, but I can definitely tell you that this won’t help McCain.  It was a blow to the McCain camp.  A small blow in my opinion, but it’s a blow that McCain really can’t afford to take right now.

And the fact that General Powell won’t be campaigning for Obama will make his influence a lot smaller than Obama would like.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the Final Presidential Debate

October 15, 2008

Alright, we’re moments away from the beginning of the debate.  As always, I’ll be watching CNN, who will have a focus group (undecided voters in Ohio) with a tracking rating of how people like what they’re hearing (broken up by men and women).  WordPress just added an option to add polls, so I’ll see if I can get that working after the debate is over and post a poll about who won.

Tonight’s debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer (CBS’s Face the Nation).

We’re about 2 minutes away.

Schieffer: Why is your plan better than your opponents?

McCain: Thanks to everybody, my prayers go out to Nancy Reagan.  “Americans are hurting and angry.”  They’re innocent victims of greed.  “They have every reason to be angry.”  We have to have a short term fix and long term fixes.  Short term fix: Fannie and Freddie cause the sub-prime lending situation, that caused the housing market to collapse.  We need to reverse the decline in home ownership.  People need to know that they can stay in there homes.  Let’s take $300 billion of the $750 billion and buy mortgages so that people can stay in their homes.  What about people who could already afford to stay in their homes?  It’ll drive home value down if there are abandoned houses.  I didn’t like the answer (because I’m staunchly against any of the bailout), but it’ll go over well with voters, and the focus group liked it.

Obama: I think this’ll take some time to work itself out.  We need an economic package for the middle class.  The fundamentals of the economy were weak before this crisis (it depends what you’re defining fundamentals of the economy as).  Tax cut for people making less than $200,000.  Buying mortgages could be a bailout to banks, so I disagree with McCain there, but we do need to help homeowners.  Need to fix energy and health care.

McCain: Obama had an encounter with a plumber, Joe (somebody) Wurzelbacher.  Joe wants to buy the business that he’s worked in, and  he looked at Obama’s plan, and he saw that he’d be put in a higher tax bracket, and that’d cause him to not be able to employ people.  Joe, I’ll not only help you buy that business and keep your taxes low, and provide a way for you to provide health care to your employees.  You want to increase people’s taxes, like Joe the plumber’s.  And he’s right there – he’ll kill small businesses if he raises taxes.  The  focus group liked that.

Obama: McCain wants to give tax breaks to some of the wealthiest companies, including oil companies.  I want to give tax cuts to 95% of Americans.  Income tax, capital gains tax.  THAT’S A LIE ABOUT CAPITAL GAINS!!!  He wants to take capital gains taxes back to levels before Clinton lowered them!  I want to give small businesses tax breaks.  He lies here – 11.5% of Americans don’t even PAY income taxes, because they don’t make enough money!

McCain: Obama says, “We need to spread the wealth around.”  “I want Joe the plumber to spread the wealth around.”  Why would you want to raise taxes?

Obama: I want to cut taxes for 95% of Americans.  Not true!  I want to cut taxes for Joe the plumber before he was able to make $250,000.  I want to give families with kids going to college a break.  I’d prefer that nobody pay taxes, but we have to pay for the core of the economy to remain strong.

McCain: Companies will go overseas if we raise our business tax rates.  “Of all times in America, we need to cut taxes and encourage business, not spread the wealth around.”  Great answer – McCain actually did better with the focus group there than McCain, and that surprised me.

Schieffer: Talking about reducing the budget deficit.  Won’t some of the programs you’re proposing have to be trimmed or eliminated?

Obama: If the $750 billion works as it’s supposed to, taxpayers will get their money back.  I have been a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go.  Some of the cuts we’ll need are subsidies to insurance companies.  “It’s just a giveaway.”  I’ll go through the federal budget line-by-line, and eliminate what’s unnecessary.  We need to invest in the American people.  We need to prevent diseases when they’re young, so they won’t spend as much Medicare money.  The same with college – they’ll drive up the economy.  He’s getting very high ratings right now – he’s appealing to the average American people.

McCain: Back to home-ownership.  During the depression, we bought homes and home values went back up.  This was a plan that Senator Clinton proposed.  We need to become energy independent.  I need an across-the-board spending freeze.  I oppose subsidies for ethanol.  Sorry – got interrupted there.  I will veto earmarks.  Senator Obama put in an earmark for a projector in a planetarium in his hometown.

Obama: An across-the-board spending freeze is a hatchet, and we need a scalpel.  Senator McCain talks about earmarks, but they account for 0.5% of the federal budget.  Eliminating them will help, but it won’t solve the problem.  When President Bush came into office, we had a budget surplus, and now we have a deficit.  Pursuing Bush-esque budgets will worsen the situation, and McCain voted for Bush’s budgets, 4 out of 5 times.

McCain: I will give a new direction to this economy.  I’m not President Bush.  If he wanted to oppose him, he should’ve run 4 years ago.  Mayor Bloomberg just put in a spending freeze in New York, so it can be done.  I’ll eliminate spending.  Obama voted for the last 2 budgets that Bush proposed (the only 2 that came up since he’s been in office!).  I have fought against spending and special interest.  When have you stood up to your party?  He’s getting good ratings, and I really think that he’s appealing to American people.

Obama: The first major bill I voted on was against tort reform.  I support charter schools.  I support clean coal technology.  I have a history of reaching across the aisle.  If I mistaken your policies for President Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues, taxes, spending, etc…, you’ve been a supporter of President Bush.  You’re been against him on stuff like torture, and I commend that, but for the majority, you want 8 more years of the same thing.

McCain: It’s been clear that I’ve disagreed with Bush and my party: climate change, opposition to earmarks, torture, conduct of the War in Iraq, Medicare prescription drugs, HMO patients’ bill of rights.  I have stood up to my party’s leadership.

Schieffer: Both of you promised to take the high road, but both campaigns have turned nasty.

McCain: This has been a very tough campaign.  If Obama had responded to my request to do town hall meetings, like he originally said, the tone of this campaign could’ve been better.  The tone of this campaign has taken a nasty turn.  I apologize for some of the negativity that has come out of my campaign.  I hope OBama will repudiate the remarks made by Congressman John Lewis.  Obama didn’t keep his word about taking public financing.  He’s getting high ratings from men here, but average ratings from women.

Obama: 2/3 of the American people think McCain’s running a negative campaign, versus 1/3 of the American people thinking that of mine.  100% of your ads have been negative (BULL CRAP!).  There’s nothing wrong with having a vigorous debate like we’re having now, but not having town hall meetings doesn’t justify the ads that have come out from your campaign and 527s.  I don’t mind being attacked for 3 weeks, but we can’t afford 4 more years of failed economic policies.  He’s actually getting negative ratings from women, and average from men here.  He’s really attacking McCain during a question about negativity in campaigns, and I think he’s really making himself look bad here.

McCain: If you turn on the television, every other ad was an attack ad on my health care policy, saying that I oppose federal funding for stem cells.  I don’t.  Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money in negative attack ads on me.  Of course we’re talking about Joe the plumber and restoring jobs to America.  That’s what my campaign is all about.  Again, I didn’t hear a repudiation of Congressman Lewis.

Obama: Lewis, made a statement with what he was troubled with hearing some of the rallies that your running mate was holding.  People were yelling “terrorist” and “kill him,” and your running mate didn’t stop them.  I do think that he gave a good comparison between what’s happening now and the civil right’s movement.  What the Americans want is for us to focus on the challenges that we have now.  We have serious differences on health care.  When people bring up me being with terrorists, that’s not the issues.

McCain: Whenever you have big rallies, you’ll have fringe people, and that’s not appropriate.  But for the majority of people, they’re not saying anything negative.  These people are the most patriotic people in this nation (veterans and wives of veterans).  There’ve been thingsat your rallies that I’m not happy with either.  I have always repudiated out of line statements, and I will continue to do that, but we cannot stand for the things that have been going on.  I haven’t.

Schieffer: Do you take issue with that?

Obama: What I think is most important is that we recognize that in order to solve 2 wars, a financial crisis, creating jobs, then we all need to be able to work together.  “We need to disagree without being disagreeable.  What we can’t do is try to characterize each other as bad people.”

McCain: We need to know the full extent of Obama’s relationships with Ayers and ACORN.  If there’s nothing there, I don’t care about it, but we need to know what all went on there.

Obama: Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of McCain’s campaign.  Bill Ayers is a professor in Chicago.  40 years ago, he engaged in despicable acts.  “I have … condemned those acts.”  I served on a school board with him 10 years ago.  “Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign … and he will not advise me in the White House.”  ACORN: Apparently, they were paying people to get people registered to vote.  The only thing I did with them was represent them with some thing in Illinois – I didn’t catch it all.  I associate with Warren Buffet on economics.  On foreign policy, it’s Joe Biden or Dick Lugar, or General Jim Jones.  “Those are the people who have shaped my ideas and will be surrounding me in the White House.”

McCain: While you and Ayers were on that board, you gave money to ACORN, and you launched your campaign from Ayers living room.  In 2001, he said he’d wished he’d have bombed more.  We need to know all the details here.  And my (not McCain) view is that with Ayers – it’s no big deal if Obama’s honest.  With ACORN, there are some serious problems there – ACORN has supported Obama, and Obama has supported ACORN, and ACORN has shown to have some serious legal problems.

Schieffer: Why is your running mate better than his?

Obama: He’s been there a while – he knows what he’s doing, especially when it comes to foreign policy.  Biden has never forgotten where he came from.  He fights for the little guy.  He has always been fighting for working families.  “After 8 years of failed policies [we] will have to reprioritize … give tax cuts to small businesses … and individuals who are struggling.”  We need to become energy independent, and make sure that our kids afford can go to college.  Biden has always been on the right side of the issues.

McCain: Palin is a reformer.  She took on the old governor, who was part of her party.  She’s given money back to taxpayers and cut the size of the government.  “She is a reformer through and through, and it’s time that we have that breath of fresh air and sweep out” the old politics of Washington.  “She understand special needs families, and understands that autism is on the rise.”  She has united people all over America, and I’m proud of her.

Schieffer: Is she qualified to be President?

Obama: That’ll be up to the American people to decide.  Her work on special needs kids has been commendable.  He didn’t answer the question!  If we have an across-the-board spending freeze, special needs kids will suffer.

McCain (on Biden): Biden is experienced, but he’s had some bad foreign policy ideas, such as dividing Iraq into different countries, and we’ve seen Iraq become united as one country.  Every time Obama says we need to spend more.  Why can’t we have transparency of these government organizations.

Schieffer: Energy and climate control.  Presidents have said that we need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.  Give us a number of how much you believe we can reduce foreign oil during your first term.

McCain: We can eliminate our dependence on Middle East countries and Venezuela.  Canadian oil is fine.  We need nuclear power plants, and that’ll be how we eliminate those 2 sources of foreign oil.  We need wind, tide, solar, gas, clean coal.  He’s getting huge ratings, and for good reason – it’s a good energy plan.  Especially the nuclear part!!!!

Obama: In 10 years, we can reduce our dependence so we don’t have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela.  “Nothing is more important than us borrowing … money from China and sending it to Venezuela.”  We need to expand domestic production, by telling oil companies, “Use them or lose them” in terms of oil fields being leased here in the U.S.  We need to drill offshore, but that won’t solve the problem.  We need wind, solar, biofuel.  We need efficient cars built here in America, not in Japan.  And he’s got good ideas too, but I WISH he would’ve said he wants nuclear power – nuclear power is safe (we use it on subs) and VERY efficient.  NAFTA didn’t have enforceable environmental agreements, and we should’ve included those.  When it comes to South Korea, we have an agreement with them, and they’re sending more cars here than we are to them.  That’s not free trade.

McCain: “Obama said, ‘We will look at offshore drilling.’  Did you catch that?  ‘Look at.'”  We need to do more than look at it, we need to do it.  AGREED!  Our businesses are paying money into Columbia, but because of previous agreements, they’re getting their goods into here for free.  We need a free trade agreement with Columbia, which Obama has opposed.  Obama hasn’t even travelled down there, and he doesn’t understand Columbia.

Obama: I understand it.  Labor leaders have been persecuted, and we need to stand for human rights.  Workers who are trying to organize for rights shouldn’t be persecuted, and that’s why I supported a free trade agreement with Peru.  When I talked about automakers, they’re getting hammered right now, not only because of gas prices, but with the financial crisis.  People can’t get car loans, so we need to get loan guarantees.  We need more efficient cars and cars of the future.  That’ll help create new jobs.  He’s getting VERY high ratings – he’s maxed out with women, and men are rating him high too.

McCain: Obama doesn’t want a free trade agreement with our best ally in the region, but wants to sit down with Hugo Chavez without preconditions.  Jobs and businesses will be created if we open up those markets.  Obama wants to restrict trade and raise taxes, and the last President who did that was Hoover.  We went from a deep recession to a depression.  I won’t let that happen.

Schieffer: Would you first lower health care costs, instead of providing more health care?

Obama: We need to do both.  My plan will allow you to keep your plan if you have health insurance.  We will lower costs so that cost savings are brought back to you.  If you don’t have insurance, you can buy into the same kind of federal pool that federal employees enjoy.  Insurance companies won’t be able to discriminate against people with preconditions.  Drugs will be lower, and we need to look at preventative care.  This will require more money up front, but will lower costs in the long run.  VERY high ratings at the end there.

McCain: Premiums and copays are going up, and health care costs are going up and inflicting pain on Americans.  We need walk in clinics and community health care centers.  We need nutrition and physical fitness programs in schools to keep kids healthy.  I want to give all American families a $5,000 tax credit.  Under Obama’s plan, if you have employees and they have kids, if you don’t have a health care plan, Obama will fine you.  I still haven’t heard what that fine will be.

Obama: Your fine will be $0.  I exempt small businesses for the requirement that large businesses have to provide health care.  Well, Senator Obama, what do you consider a small business???  The average family is paying higher premiums because of the uninsured.  I’ll give small businesses a 50% credit so they can afford it.  If not, you can buy into the plan I have.  McCain will give you the tax credit, but what will happen to older folks who can’t afford the health care plan?  McCain will tax the health care benefits you have from your employer, the first time in history this has ever happened.  Insurers right now are restricted statewide.  Those rules would be stripped away, and you’d see companies excluding people.

McCain: People like Joe are rich, because Obama said about him that we need to “spread the wealth,” so he’s rich enough that he would be fined.  Under my plan, people will be able to go across the country, giving them the chance to choose their futures.  “Senator Government–Senator Obama wants government to do the job.”  Senator Obama and the Democrats have been in charge the last 2 years, and things have gotten worse.

Obama: Under McCain’s plan, there’s a strong risk that you will lose your health care from your employer.  All I want to do is lower costs.

Schieffer: Could either of you nominate a Supreme Court Justice who disagrees with your view on Roe v. Wade.

McCain: I have never had a litmus test.  I think the Court decided incorrectly there, but I’m a Federalist – it should be left up to the states.  We need to nominate people based on qualifications, not if I agree with their ideology.  There should be no litmus test.  These nominees should be picked based on qualifications, who adhere to the Constitution, not people who legislate from the bench.  (But people who stick to the Constitution would oppose Roe v. Wade).  I’ll have no litmus test.

Obama: I’d agree that we shouldn’t have a litmus test.  Fairness and justice should be given to the American people.  It’s very likely that one of us will be making 1 or more appointments, and Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance.  I support the decision in Roe v. Wade.  I believe that women are in the best position to make this decision.  The Constitution has privacy built into it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum or popular vote.  “I will look for those judges who have an outstanding record … intellect.”  McCain and I disagreed when the S.C. made it harder for some woman to bring suit for equal pay for women.  The Court said that she waited too long.  If a woman is being treated unfairly, the Court needs to stand up if nobody will.

McCain: You can’t waive the statute of limitation 20 to 30 years.  Senator Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide medical attention to babies who were not successfully aborted (essentially passive infanticide).  Then he voted present on the floor.  He did the same with partial birth abortion.  Men are liking this, but women not so much.

Obama: That’s not true.  There was a bill put forward that said that you need life saving treatment that would undermine Roe v. Wade, but there was a law alreay on the books.  On partial birth abortion: I’m supportive of a ban on late term abortions as long as there’s an exception for the safety of the woman’s life.    Both men and women are rating him a bit above average now.  Surely there is some common ground, when both sides can come together and prevent unintended pregnancies.  Communicate that sex shouldn’t be engaged in carelessly.  Adoption choices should be out there.  Those things are now in the Democratic platform, for the first time ever.

McCain: “Health of the mother” has been stretched to mean almost anything (such as mental health in some cases).  Cindy and I are adoptive parents.  We need to promote adoption and protect the rights of the unborn.

Schieffer: A question about education and national security – I missed what all it was.

Obama: No nation has had a bad economy and a good military.  Education is a huge part of this.  We need better pay for teachers.  We need college to be more affordable.  We’ll offer an exchange of community/military service with money for college.  We can’t do this just in schools.  Parents need to show responsibility too – encourage thirst for knowledge.  And he’s absolutely right here.  It starts at home.  People rated him as high as they could.

McCain: Choice and competition among schools are some of the key elements – New York and New Orleans – where we find bad teachers another line of work.  We need to give parents a choice in sending kids to good schools.  Charter schools are one option.

Schieffer: Should the federal government play a larger role?

Obama: The states need to be in control, but the federal government needs to step in and help struggling local school districts.  Bush did this with No Child Left Behind, “but unfortunately, he left the money behind.”  That was a good line.  McCain and I agree on charter schools.  I think we need to encourage competition between schools.  Bad teachers need to be replaced.  “Our kids need to have the best future.”  We disagree on vouchers, and we disagree on college accessibility.  McCain doesn’t have programs that help college groups.  (That’s because he’ll simplify the tax code to make finding tax credits for college easier to find).

McCain: Vouchers need to be provided, because parents WANT vouchers.  They wanted to chose the schools where their children go (this was in Washington, D.C.).  As far as NCLB, it had its flaws and problems, but it’s the first time we looked at this from the national perspective.  Head Start is a great program.  It’s not doing what it should do, so we need to reform it and fund it.  We can’t just give more money, we need to reform it too.  We need transparency, rewards, and funding.  We’ll find and spend money to find the cause of autism, but to have a situation that the most expensive education is in America means that we also need reform.  We can’t throw money at a problem without reform.  Vouchers work.

Obama: On vouchers in D.C.  The D.C. school system is in terrible shape.  The superintendent there is doing a great job (McCain interjected that she supports vouchers).  There’s not proof that vouchers solve the problem.  We need a President who will tackle this head on.

McCain: Obama said that because there’s not enough vouchers, we shouldn’t have any.  That’s wrong.

Schieffer: Closing statements.

McCain: Thank you.  We need a new direction.  “We cannot be satisfied with what we’ve been doing for the last 8 years.”  I’ve been a reformer.  I’ve opposed my party.  I’ve been a good steward of your tax dollars.  We need to make health care and education affordable to all.  We need to stop this wild spending.  All of these promises made tonight will be made based on whether you trust us or not.  I ask you to examine both my record as well as my proposals for this country.  I’ve put my country first.  “It’s been a great honor of my life, and I’ve been proud to serve, and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to serve again.  I’ll be honored, and humbled.”

Obama: Washington has been unwilling to address the problems.  We cannot adopt the policies of the last 8 years.  We need change.  You’ve invited me into your homes.  “Our brighter days are still ahead, but we have to invest in the American people.”  College needs to be more affordable.  Wages need to be higher, and we need to grow the middle class.  “It’s not gonna be easy.  It’s not gonna be quick.”  Republicans and Democrats will have to come together.  “If you give me the … honor of being President, I will work tireously and  honorably to ensure the future of our children.”

Bob Schieffer: As my mother would say: “Go vote now.  It’ll make you feel big and strong.”

McCain/Obama: Thank you (to each other).

Alright, overall, I think this was BY FAR the best debate we had.  I commend Bob Schieffer.  He was by far the best moderator we had.

Overall, I think McCain won this won.  This is the first time I’ve called a debate (other than the VP debate, where I called Biden the winner), and I think McCain won.  He was VERY strong toward the beginning.  I think Obama was weak at the beginning, but picked it up toward the end, but overall, I think that McCain was the winner.

Again, I think McCain was definitely stronger here.  I think Obama was too weak.  This was definitely the debate McCain needed, but I’m not sure that it’ll be enough for him to recover.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Barack Obama Will Not Pull Out of Iraq Within 16 Months

October 14, 2008

It amazes me how many people are under this illusion that Senator Obama will pull our troops out of Iraq within 16 months of assuming office.  Why do I doubt that he’ll actually pull out within 16 months?

Well, lets take a look at the history of Obama’s stances on Iraq:

  1. First, in September of 2007, Obama said, “So let me be clear.  There is no military solution in Iraq.  There never was.  The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolvetheir civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops.  Not in six months or one year, but now.”
  2. Then, as his campaign picked up steam during the primary, he said in primary debates that he’d have our troops out of Iraq within 6 months of assuming office.
  3. Then on January 15, 2008, he changed it to the end of 2009 (a little over 11 months): “I have put forward a plan that will get our troops out by the end of 2009.  We already saw today reports that the Iraqi minister suggests that we’re going to be in there at least until 2018, a decade-long commitment.”  So that was an increase of 5 months.
  4. Obama’s current plan is to have troops out within 16 months, another increase of 5 years months (sorry – my bad).

But is that statement even true?  This is an excerpt from his website:

Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – more than 7 years after the war began.

Under the Obama-Bidenplan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.

He never actually even says how many troops will be left there.  And how is this any different than what McCain wants to do?  McCain wants to leave as soon as possible, just like Obama, but McCain wants to make sure the job is done well.

And Obama, before going to Iraq, told reporters:

And as I’ve said before, and this was true during the heat of the primary, it was true when we posted this Web site. I have always said, and again, you can take a look at the language, that as commander-in-chief, I would always reserve the right to do what’s best in America’s national interests. And if it turned out, for example, that, you know, we had to, in certain months, slow the pace because of the safety of American troops in terms of getting combat troops out, of course we would take that into account. I would be a poor commander-in-chief if I didn’t take facts on the ground into account.

And he also said (before he went to Iraq), “I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed…And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”

Even Matt Sous, the President of Students for Obama at Central Michigan University said during a debate last year, “Our goal is not to get out of Iraq, but to put pressure on the leaders there.”

When Senator Obama says that he will have us out within 16 months, it is nothing more than a ploy to get votes.  He’ll keep saying, “5 more months” whenever the deadline gets near, and we’ll be there just as long as Senator McCain would keep us there.  The difference is that Obama refuses to admit that he will keep us in Iraq just as long as Senator McCain would.

Hopefully people begin to see the light, and start supporting Senator McCain.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the October 7th Presidential Debate

October 7, 2008

Alright, we’re about 3 minutes away from tonight’s Presidential debate.  This one will be held in Belmont University in Nashville, TN.  Tonight, I’ll again be watching CNN and  the focus group will be undecided voters in Ohio (this time it’ll be broken up by men and women).  Tonight’s moderator will be NBC’s Tom Brokaw.

Alright, we’re now starting.

Allen Shaffer: “What’s the fastest solution to bail out” citizens, from economic turmoil?

Obama: We’re in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and many of you are worried.  This is the final burden on the failed economic policies of the last 8 years.  McCain agreed with Bush, and stripped regulations, and now we’re paying for it.  Step 1: Make sure last week’s rescue package succeeds.  Come on Obama, it won’t – the package sucked!  The focus group is liking this.  Step 2: Tax cuts for citizens.  Help people stay in their homes.  Help states create jobs.  Health care.  Have politicians thinking about middle class.  Women really loved him, and men were pretty high up there too.

McCain: Americans are angry and upset and fearful.  I have a plan to fix this problem: energy independence.  Don’t send money to countries who don’t like us.  “Let’s not raise taxes on anybody–today.”  What was that – what was that “today” – that sounded bad.  “We’re gonna have to do something about home values.”  People can’t afford mortgage payments (well, that’s mainly their fault).  Have government buy up bad mortgages so people can pay them off – come on McCain – that plan sucks.  People had been liking him a lot there (more men than women), but it dropped down a bit toward the end.

Brokaw: Who would you appoint to Treasury Secretary?

McCain: Not you Tom.

Brokaw: With good reason.

McCain: Somebody who people can connect with.  Meg Whitman – CEO of some company – oh – Ebay.

Obama: Warren Buffett would be a good person, but there are others as well.  McCain said, “The fundamentals of the economy are sound.”  That’s because they are.  The principles of our economy, and the American work ethic is sound.

Oliver Clark: How will the bailout bill help people?

McCain: “You described bailout, I believe it’s rescue.”  I left my campaign to go back to Washington to make sure that there were protections for the taxpayer – oversight and a way to pay back taxpayers.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are what lit this thing on fire, and many hadn’t heard of them before this crisis.  Democrats in Congress defended what Fannie and Freddie did while they got money from the two.  Obamagot the second highest amount of money from Fannie and Freddie.  Fannie and Freddie started this forest fire.  And he’s not doing to well with the focus group during that, although it came up toward the end.

Obama: Right now, the credit markets are frozen, so small businesses can’t get loans, and can’t make payroll, so they may have to lay people off.  “That’s why we had to take action.”  The biggest problem in this whole thing was the deregulation of the financial system.  I argued for more regulation, but nothing happened.  I never promotedFannie, but McCain’s somebody on his campaign–was something with Fannie Mae (I didn’t catch the whole statement).  The President has to make sure that the homeowners are protected.  He got pretty good ratings there.

Brokaw: Are you saying it’ll get worse before it gets better?

Obama: No, I am confident in the American economy.  Isn’t that what McCain said when he said the fundamentals are strong?  HYPOCRITE!  He got great ratings there.

McCain: It depends on what we do.  If we stabilize it and buy up bad loans, and get rid of special interests in Washington, we can fix our economy.  Our workers are the best in the world.  They’re the fundamental aspect of our economy.  “We gotta give them a chance to do their best. … They’re the innocent bystanders of” this crisis.

Teresa Finch: “How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?”

Obama: I understand your crisis and cynicism.  “You’re right, there is a lot of blame to go around. … But remember, when George Bush came into office, we had a surplus … now we have a deficit.”  We’ve almost doubled our deficit.  Nobody is completely innocent.  I’m going to spend money on key issues that we have to work on, health care and energy.  Ratings are really high here.  Invest in college affordability.  “I’m cutting more than I’m spending.”  And men just plummeted in their ratings there.  And what exactly is he planning on cutting?

McCain: “The system in Washington is broken.”  I’ve been a reformer and crossed the aisle, working with Senator Feingold on campaign finance reform.  “The situation today cries out for bipartisanship. … Let’s look at our records as well as our rhetoric.”  Obama is proposing 860 billion dollars of new spending, and voted for every increase of spending that came across the floor.  He voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel spending, including a projector for a planetarium in Illinois.  We need to get Americans working again, and get more jobs for Americans.  We need nuclear power.  We need to stop depending on foreign oil.  Ratings were pretty bad there, but came up at the end.  McCain was right – Obama’s earmarks are just atrocious.

Brokaw: Health care, energy, and entitlement reform – order of priorities?

McCain: Do all 3 at once.  We won’t be able to provide same benefits for future retirees as we are able to today.  I’ve worked across the aisle.  We can work on nuclear power plants, create new jobs.  We need alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal.  Health care – everyone is struggling to make sure they can afford their premiums.  We can do these all at once, and we have to do them all at once.

Obama: Your list of priorities.  Energy, we have to deal with today.  Gas is expensive, and it may go up.  Some countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran are gaining from high oil prices.  In 10 years, we need to be free of foreign oil.  Just like Kennedy said we can go to the moon in 10 years, this can be done.  That was a great analogy!  I missed what he just said.  I want to go line-by-line and eliminate programs in the federal government, and eliminate programs that don’t work, and make others cheaper.  Women are rating him really high now.  Money given to big oil companies, which McCain wants, takes money out of the system.  Don’t mislead, Obama, he wants to give tax cuts to ALL companies, but that doesn’t exclude oil companies.

Brokaw: What are you gonna ask Americans to sacrifice to get out of the depression?

McCain: Talking about defense contracts that were done corruptly.  Get rid of earmarks, and some of those are “good” projects, but they have to be eliminated still.  Except for Defense, Veterans Affairs, and other crucial programs, we will have to have a spending freeze.  Keep everything transparent.  Don’t allow for the government to hide earmarks.

Obama: After September 11, everybody came together, and President Bush did some smart things at the outset.  We need leadership to focus on problems inside and outside of government.  We need to think about how we use energy – we need to tell oil companies to start drilling and invest in clean coal technology.  We need to think of ways that we can conserve energy, and provide incentives to buy American cars that are fuel efficient.  The young people of America want to serve, and we need to increase the Peace Corps.  Ratings were really high there, especially among women.

Brokaw: President Bush last summer said Wall Street got drunk.  Now many think that both Washington and consumers also got drunk.  How do you get people to reduce easy credit and overspending?

Obama: We have to cut spending and increase revenue.  There are $18 billion in earmarks, but McCain wants to give tax cuts to CEOs, and that’s not sharing the burden.  Actually, it IS sharing the burden – it’s sharing it equally.  All of us need to contribute and make sacrifices.  We don’t need an across-the-board freeze.  That way, we only help those who need it.

McCain: Obama wants to raise taxes.  The last President who raised taxes during hard times was Herbert Hoover.  We’ve lost 700,000 jobs in America, but300,000 jobs have been created by small businesses.  Obama’s tax increases will increase taxes on over 50% of small businesses, meaning that jobs will have to be cut.  Obama said he’d fore go his tax increases if the economy was bad.  The economy is bad.  I don’t want to increase tax cuts.  I want to leave tax cuts alone, but give tax credits to people, and give credits for health care.  Let’s get our economy going again.

Obama just tried to keep going and Brokaw shut him up!  YEAH!

Brokaw: Would you tell Congress to do something about Social Security and Medicare within 2 years?

Obama: We won’t solve Social Security and Medicare without solving tax problems.  I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of Americans.  THAT’S A LIE!  ONLY 90% of Americans even make enough money to PAY taxes!  We provide a 50% tax credit to small businesses to buy healthcare.  And the ratings are really high here, again, especially with women.  McCain wants to give tax cuts to large corporations and the rest going to CEOs.  “That is not fair, and it doesn’t work.”  If we reverse the policies of the last 8 years, then we can deal with Social Security and Medicare, because we’ll have a health care plan that works for you.

McCain: “Hey, I’ll answer the question.”  It’s not that tough to fix social security – we have to sit down and fix this together.  Reagan and Tip O’Neill sat down and worked together.  Have a commission come together withrecommendations.  Then have Congress vote up or down, and not fool with it.  Obama has voted to increase taxes and voted against tax cuts.  I have fought to reform government.  “We’ll get our economy going again, and our best days are ahead of us.”

Ingrid Jackson: Congress moved pretty fast with the economic crisis.  How would you make sure they move fast with environmental issues?

McCain: “When we have an issue that we may hand our children a damaged planet–I have disagreed strongly with the Bush Administration.”  We brought this issue to the Senate.  We need nuclear power.  Nuclear power is safe and clean, and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.  My liberal roommate’s getting mad that the focus group doesn’t like this: “These voters suck.”  And the ratings went up a bit at the end there.

Obama: “It is absolutely critical.”  We need to create a new energy economy.  We need to understand that this is a national security issue.  I favor nuclear power as one component.  OK, the focus group does suck.  They’re now rating him high, and he’s saying basically what McCain said.  The focus group seems kinda biased.  McCain’s problem withenergy is that he hasn’t done anything with alternative fuels.  It’s easy to talk about this stuff, but McCain hasn’t done anything.  McCain talks about drilling, and that’s important, but there’s not enough here at home to “drill our way out of the problem.”

Brokaw: Do we need a Manhattan-like project to deal with the energy crisis?

McCain: We need government involvement initially, and then once it’s started, release it to the private sector.  Obama (this is where he said “that one”) voted for a bill that Bush/Cheney backed with lots of money for oil companies, and I voted against it.

Lindsey Trella: Health care has become a profitable industry.  Should health care be treated as a commodity?

Obama: Health care is a very important issue.  Premiums have doubled over the last 8 years, and co-pays have increased as well.  We have a moral and economic imperative to do something about this.  Here’s what I would do: you can keep your plan if you like it, and we’ll work with your employer to lower your premiums.  We’ll work on making forms electronic, instead of on paper.  You’ll be able to have the same health care plan that Congress gets.  McCain has a different approach.  He’ll give you a $5,000 tax credit, but then tax your employer health care benefits.  He’ll then take out regulations that states have that make sure that you get certain things covered under your insurance.

McCain: You’ve identified one of the major challenges that America faces (directed to the audience member).  We need to impose efficiencies.  There’s a fundamental difference between me and Obama.  Obama will pose mandates.  If you’re a small business owner or parent, and you can’t afford health care for your employees or children, Obama will fine you.  How does that help the situation?  He’s ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!  How will that help you if you can’t afford health care already?  95% of Americans will have increased funds to get health care under my plan, except the really rich people.

Brokaw: Is health care a privilege, right, or responsibility?

McCain: Responsibility.  The government shouldn’t mandate that health care must be provided to all.  There shouldn’t be fines for these companies or parents, and Obama hasn’t said how much the fine is yet.

Obama: Right, for every American.  Talking about his mother dying at 53, and arguing with insurance companies.  He’s really rating high right now.  If you have a plan that you like, you can keep it, I’ll just help lower the premium.  Small businesses won’t have a mandate, they’ll get a 50% tax credit.  We don’t want kids going to ERs for treatable illnesses like asthma.  McCain voted against (something dealing with children and health care).  Crack down on insurance companies cheating their companies.  The problem with going across state lines is that companies will go to states that have laxed laws and cheat their customers, like banks do in Delaware.  DID HE JUST USE HIS RUNNING MATE’S STATE AS A BAD EXAMPLE!!!

Phil Elliot: How will our economic distress affect our position in the standing of the world militarily?

McCain: Much of the criticism of our foreign policy is justified.  We are peace makers and keepers.  We need to know when to go in and when not.  That question can only be answered by someone who understands these things.  We need to prevent the spread of genocide.  He’s rating really high here.  My opposition to sending Marines to Lebanon, and my stance on Bosnia, Russia, and others show that I understand these things.  Obama has been on the wrong side of some of these issues.

Obama: I don’t understand how we invaded Iraq when bin Laden is still free.  McCain said that Iraq would be quick and easy.  We’re spending money in Iraq when Iraq has a surplus.  We need that money more than them, and they have a surplus.  We are the greatest nation in the world, but we can’t maintain our military superiority if our economy continues to decline.  He is right about that.  We need to fundamentally change our foreign policy.

Brokaw: Let’s establish doctrines for using force when national security isn’t at stake, but in humanitarian issues?

Obama: Would’ve stopped Rwanda and the Holocaust.  When we stand idly by as genocide occurs, that diminishes us.  We should intervene when possible, but we can’t be everywhere all the time.  We need to work in concert with our allies, such as in Darfur.  We need to lead the international community.

McCain: If we had withdrawn from Iraq when Obama wanted to, it would have been a travesty.  Genocide is terrible, and we never want it to happen again.  We need a person who understands the limits of our capabilities.  We went into Somalia being peace makers, but had to withdraw in humiliation.  I stood up against Reagan with Lebanon.  We have to be able to beneficially affect the situation, realizing that we’re sending Americans into harm’s way.  I won’t make these decisions lightly.  We can’t have another Holocaust or Rwanda, but we can’t make the situation worse.

Katie Hamm: Should we respect Pakistani sovereignty and allow terrorists to stay there or invade like we did with Cambodia during Vietnam?

Obama: We got distracted from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, and went to Iraq.  They’re now stronger now than any time since 2001.  They’re plotting to kill Americans right now.  We need to end the war in Iraq, put troops into Afghanistan, eliminate drug trafficking, and change policies with Pakistan.  We need to encourage democracy, and if we have bin Laden in our sights, and Pakistan won’t or can’t take him out, we will take him out.  That’s our number 1 national security priority.

McCain: Obamawants to announce when we’re going to attack Pakistan.  It’ll turn public opinion against us.  We drove Russians out of Afghanistan with Afghani freedom fighters, and that led to bin Laden coming to power.  General Petraeushad a strategy of getting the support of the Pakistani people, and working with them to get Al Qaeda.  Don’t threaten to attack them, but talk with them.

Obama: Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan, but to strike inside of Pakistan if bin Laden is available to be taken out.  And I agree with Obama here on this one.  McCain IS twisting his words, and not taking bin Laden out when Clinton happened is one of the things that led to September 11th.  Pakistan was not promoting democracy, and it undermined our fight on the war on terrorism.

McCain: I have supported efforts that the U.S. had to go in militarily, but opposed it when it wasn’t necessary.  I was joking with a veteran about Iran (Obama used McCains “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” quote).  I will act responsibly as I have through my military career.

Brokaw: In Afghanistan, the senior British Commander has said that we’re failing in Afghanistan.  The Afghans need to take over.  We need an acceptable dictator.  What’s your opinion?

Obama: We need to withdraw from Iraq responsibly, and make the Iraqis take control so that we can put more troops into Afghanistan.

McCain: The same overall strategies between Afghansitan and Iraq are the same.  We need more troops, like Obama is saying.  Obama still won’t admit that the surge worked, and that’s the same strategy that we will need in Afghanistan.  Once they feel secure, they can lead normal lives, the same thing that’s happening in Iraq today.  And he’s absolutely right here.

Brokaw: How can we get Russia to behave better without starting another Cold War?

McCain: We won’t have another Cold War.  I warned about Vladimir Putin a long time ago – I saw a “K,” a “G,” and a “B.”  He was wrong with Georgia.  Ukraine is in Russia’s sights now (it’s in the sights of the Somalians too – that whole pirate thing is just weird).  We need to talk, such as in the G8 summits.  Russia must realize that this is not acceptable, and we need economic and diplomatic means to show that that this is not acceptable.  Really high ratings there, and he’s absolutely right.

Obama: Russia will be an issue that we’ll have to deal within the next 4 years.  I agree with Senator McCain on most of that.  We can’t just have diplomacy.  We need to support, financially, former U.S.S.R. countries, such as Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, etc.  Georgia is suffering, and that’s probably what Putin wanted to happen.  Russia was trying to obtain territories, and this is unacceptable.  We need to be proactive, not reactive.  He is right here – we have to be a step or 2 ahead of Russia.  Energy will be key in dealing with Russia, that’s one of the things that happened in Georgia’s situation.

Brokaw: Is Russia under Putin an evil empire?

Obama: No, but their actions are sometimes.

McCain: If I say yes, it reignites the Cold War.  If I say no, it seems like I’m ignoring it.  Energy is a key issue.  My liberal roommate just said that both want to say yes, but it’d be political suicide to do so.

Terry Shirey: If McCain attacks Israel, would you send troops or wait for UN Security Council approval?

McCain: We wouldn’t wait, because Russia and China would pose obstacles to sending troops.  Iran with nukes is a threat to the stability of the Middle East – other countries would acquire nukes.  Obama would meet with them without preconditions.  I would impose tough sanctions, and we can abridge their behavior, and hopefully they’ll abandon this quest for nukes.  We can never allow a second Holocaust to take place.

Obama: We cannot a nuclear Iran.  “It would be a game changer in the region.”  It would threaten Israel – one of our strongest allies.  As well, it would lead to nukes in the hands of terrorists.  I will never take military action off the table.  If we can work more effectively with more other countries to tighten sanctions, we should.  He’s getting rated higher, but said the same things as McCain – the focus group is biased folks.  Neither of them answered the question about if Iran ATTACKED Israel.  When we stopped talkingwith Iran, their nuclear pursuance increased, as did North Korea’s when we stopped talking.

Brokaw: What don’t you know, and how will you learn it?

Obama: It’s the challenges that we don’t expect that consume most of our time.  I wouldn’t be standing here if my country hadn’t given me great opportunity.  The question in this election is will we pass on this same American dream?  That dream has diminished – people are losing health care and going bankrupt.  Kids can’t afford college.  We can’t keep doing the same for the next 8 years.  We need fundamental change.  Really good ratings there!

McCain: I think what I don’t know is what’s gonna happen both here at home and overseas.  What I don’t know is what the expected will be.  I know what it’s like in dark times.  I know what it’s like to fight and hope through dark times.  “I know what it’s like to have your comrades and neighbors reach out to you and put you back in the fight.  That’s what America’s all about.”  It’s been my privilege to serve this country, and I’m asking for an opportunity to serve you more.  I’ve always put my country first.  Good ratings at the end, but not as good as Obama’s.

Brokaw, thank you… “You’re in the way of my script.”  Thank you, and goodnight from Nashville.

Alright, overall, I thnk that both candidates performed pretty poorly.  Overall, I can’t really pick a winner.  I hate doing this again, like I did after the last debate, but I’m going to have to call this one a tie.  McCain wasn’t as strong on foreign policy as he could’ve been (and that’s his strong point).  On economic issues, he had some good plans but he didn’t seem to appeal to the average Joe citizens.  The media has been commenting on McCain calling Obama “That one” when he was talking about Obama voting for money given to oil companies (and I’ve put it in italics in the text above).  Apparently it caught some people as awkward.  The consensus on CNN was that it was intended as “that one” versus “this one” (meaning “me” from McCain’s stand point).  Sure it was maybe bad wording, but I don’t think it was anything to get worked up about (and again, my liberal roommate agrees here).  Look, politicians use poor choices of words all the time.  I’m not saying McCain should’ve said it, but it’s nothing that people need to complain about.

Also, Obama seemed to get a little overconfident at the end, and he was stuttery at times.

Both candidates wanted to violate the rules of the debate, and just keep talking.  I think Brokaw needed to do a better job of moderating.  Instead of just saying, “You didn’t stop when the red light turned on,” he should’ve said, “Your time is up.”

At some points, some of McCain’s humor was just sucky (kinda like my fathers at times – he’ll tell these lame jokes when he’s doing announcements at church that he’s got this reputation, and people just kinda laugh to humor him, and the fact that he’s tried to tell a joke becomes the joke – it’s not always a bad thing, but it was with McCain).

Again, I do think that this was a tie, and this was one that McCain could not afford to lose.  McCain is going to need a couple small miracles to actually come back from where he’s at now.  I’m not giving up hope, but it’s definitely Obama’s race to lose at this point.

CNN just released a poll – Obama gained favoribility and lost unfavorability, but McCain stayed the same on both.  Overall, those polled thought Obama won (56%-30%).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Joe Biden Suspends Campaign Events After Passing of Mother-in-Law

October 5, 2008

Bonny Jacobs, the mother of Senator Biden’s wife, Jill, passed away earlier today.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the Biden and Jacobs families.  Considering all that Senator Biden has been through, this must be a hard time for him.

Biden had initially cancelled his campaign events on Friday to be with his son, Beau, who was being deployed to Iraq (he’s in the National Guard).  Hospice then informed the family that Mrs. Jacobs was not doing well, and Biden cancelled events on Friday and Saturday.  Upon her passing today, he has cancelled all of his events for Monday and Tuesday.

Again, my thoughts go out to both families, and may Mrs. Jacobs rest in peace.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the Vice Presidential Debate

October 2, 2008

We are waiting for the debate to start.  Tonight’s debate will be between the VP candidates, Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), and will be starting in about 1 minute.  It’ll be moderated by Gwen Ifill, from PBS.

OK – now we’re about to start.

Ifill: Talking about the Senate bill.  “Was this the worst of Washington, or the best of Washington?”

Biden: Neither.  The economic policies of the last 8 years were the worst part.  Obama laid out rescue plan: Oversight, “focus on homeowners and folks on mainstreet, treat taxpayers like investors, and lastly, make sure CEOs don’t benefit.”  “We will fundamentally change the … economic policy.”

Palin: “Our economy is hurting, and the government has not provided the sound oversight that we need and deserve.”  Women undecided voters in Ohio (the group they’re surveyin is Undecideds in Ohio) arereally liking her, now she’s mentioning McCain, and she’s dropped a bit – talking about his  policy will accomplish what we need.

Biden: Talking about McCain saying “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” – well he was talking about the PRINCIPLES of CAPITALISM and the American workers, not the details of our current economy!  Women, liking Biden more than men, a trend that seems to carry no matter who’s talking.

Palin: Basically correcting Biden’s statement about McCain, saying what I said.  Americans are craving reform.  Men had liked her more, then women climbed back on top.

Ifill: Subprime lending meltdown.  Who was at fault?  Lenders or buyers?

Palin: “Darn right it was the … lenders.”  And the women are as HIGH as they can go on  the chart – wow.  Talking about not living outside of our means, that we do need to take responsibility – and both categories are as high as they can go.  Basically saying that this isn’t the people’s fault, but that we can learn a lesson from it, and take steps to insure that we don’t live above our means.

Biden: Saying McCain let Wall Street run wild.  That his stances for deregulation were bad, and Wall Street can’t regulate itself.  Well, it can and should, Mr. Biden.  Saying that McCain wants to deregulate the health care industry.  I got interrupted there – lost what Biden said.  I did notice the chart, women liking him more than men, but not as high as Palin.

Palin: OK, I’m back – something about tax reduction and letting private sector keep more of what we produce.  We need tax relief.  Undecided Ohio voters are loving her.

Biden: Palin lied: Obama didn’t raise taxes.  Saying that Palin didn’t answer the question about deregulation.  Saying that McCain DID pursue deregulation.

Palin: Wants to correct Biden’s misstatements on taxes first.  Now talking about what she did in Alaska for taxes.  Now on to talking about McCain pushing for more regulations: citing tobacco and campaign finances.

Ifill: Time is up.  Next question: Tax benefits on health care.

Biden: “The middle class is struggling.”  He’s right – middle class families are struggling, and the voters understand this and are agreeing with him.  He’s hitting it home here, and the focus group is liking it, women more than men.  Saying that Obama will cut taxes for people under $200,000.  Talking about McCain wanting to raise taxes, but as soon as he went negative, his ratings went down, now back up.  But Biden did hit it home to the average Joe voters – it was good for Obama.

Palin: Talking about Biden saying that paying higher taxes is patriotic, and that she disagrees, coming from the middle class.  Saying that private sector and  families should grow, thrive, and prosper.  Talking about Obama’s spending being “the backwards way in growing the economy.”  Talking about McCain’s health care plan: $5,000 tax credit – “that’s budget neutral,” unlike Obama’s plan which will cost the government money.  Her ratings aren’t doing too well right now.  Saying that McCain will promote crossing state lines to purchase plans – and that’ll increase competition.

Biden: Talking about not redistributing money to big businesses.  Talking about health care – he’s kinda stuttering and bumbling around during this part.  He’s talking about health care, specifically McCain taxing health care benefits, which will have money going to insurance companies.  Having to replace a $12,000 plan with $5,000 because 20 million people will be dropped.  “The ultimate bridge to nowhere.”  Good quote – the focus group didn’t like it, but I thought it was clever.

Biden: talking about tax cuts, and not going through with the Bush tax cuts.  Not gonna support tax cuts for corporate wealthy.  Not gonna support tax cuts for Exxon/Mobil.  Saying we can’t slow up on education.  And  the women are  rating him as high as they can right now, but men putting him at neutral now.  Saying he and Obama will eliminate wasteful spending, one which is a tax dodge by putting their post office box off shore.

Palin: “McCain doesn’t tell 1 thing to 1 group” and something else to another group.  Talking about the energy plan: Obama voted for a plan that gave oil companies big tax breaks.  Saying that she took on those oil companies.  They were doing what they need to do, but they’re not her biggest fans, because she broke up monopolies, and she was at a neutral rating all through that, but is now a little bit positive.  Reemphasizing that Obama voted FOR that energy plan.  Saying that her area of expertise is energy.  Saying that she’ll do what is right for the American people, and stop greed on Wall Street, and that the rescue plan needs oversight.  She dipped pretty negative there, but balanced it out at the end.

Biden: Talking about Obama voting for the bill.  Saying it was the first bill that really allowed for alternate energy.  Why is McCain adding tax cuts for oil companies? (he asked).  Saying that we should be able to give back money to everybody just like Palin did in Alaska, but under McCain’s plan, it’ll all go to companies.  Saying he hopes Palin will convince McCain to support windfall tax, like Palin supported in the past.

Ifill: Something about economy and something about debt – I didn’t hear exactly what it was.

Palin: We need to be appreciative of McCain’s call for reform.  And emphasizing reform is a very good strategy for her (and Biden) in this debate.  Put politics and campaign aside and fix this “toxic mess on Main Street that’s affecting Wall Street” (I think she switched the 2 of those up).

Biden: Saying that McCain and Palin don’t support certain ways to help the people through one of the bailout bills, I missed the specifics – women liked him, men didn’t.

Palin: Talking about doing all we can do to become energy independent.  She dropped really low, and is coming back now, talking about having to rely on foreign countries, instead of “dollars circulating here creating 10s of 1,000s of jobs. … Energy independence is the key to this nation’s future.”  Talking about not giving oil company tax breaks.  She rose pretty high there, but dropped down at the end.

Ifill: What’s true and false about climate change.

Palin: Talking about Alaska often changed by climate, since it’s an arctic state.  Some of it’s human-caused, others of it is cyclical.  Doesn’t want to argue about causes, but wants to discuss how we’ll clean up the planet.  That’s a great answer – and she’s right.  Who cares HOW we got here, as long as we know HOW to fix it!  We need an all of the above approach to tap into energy as well as conserving fuel – and she got pretty high ratings there.

Biden: “I think it’s clearly man-made.”  And he dropped down a bit there.  Saying that we can’t get a solution unless we know the cause.  Well, Mr. Biden, even the National Climatic Data Center doesn’t know the cause, and it’s their job to figure these things out.  Talking about ways to stop greenhouse gases from being emitted.  Saying that China is building new dirty coal plants weekly – we need to export technology to help them and their environment.  Saying McCain voted against alternative energy 20 times.  Biden got some pretty good ratings there.

Palin: McCain supports caps on drilling.  Saying that we need to tap into oil, and that’s what the people want.  She gave the “Drill baby, drill!” quote and that dropped her pretty bad.  Saying that Biden called drilling “raping” the continental shelf.  Saying that we need an all of the above approach.  Saying that Biden didn’t support clean coal, saying that he said there’s no such thing as clean coal.

Biden: Saying that the comment was taken out of context, and that he’s supported clean coal for 25 years.  If the only answer you have is oil, and not everything, how will that help?

Ifill: Do you support, as they do in Alaska, benefits to gay couples?

Biden: Absolutely.  In our administration, there will be no difference between gay and straight couples.  And  here’s where I disagree – it’s a states’ rights issue.  He brought up visitation in hospitals, and I do agree there.  Although he’s remaining barely above neutral ratings.

Palin: I wouldn’t do it if it redefined marriage, but I will be tolerant.  Saying that she has a diverse group of family and friends – I can’t tell if she’s implying gay friends?  Saying that McCain wouldn’t ban visitation rights, but supports defining marriage between 1 man and 1 woman.  She did pretty good in ratings.

Biden: Neithe me nor Obama want to redefine marriage.  That’s a decision to be left by the faith institutes.  Saying that Palin doesn’t want differences in rights, so they’re on the same page.

Palin: Says that she doesn’t want to redefine marriage, so they agree.

Ifill: On Iraq – exit strategy.

Palin: Saying that we have a good plan, and that the surge worked, is working, and  Obama shouldn’t have voted against troop funding, and she’s glad that Biden stood up to him on that.  Saying that we can start putting more troops in Afghanistan.  She’s rating right around neutral right now.  Saying that we’re getting closer and closer to victory, and it’d be a travesty if we quit in Iraq.

Biden: I didn’t hear a plan.  Outlining Obama’s plan: Train the Iraqis.  McCain voted the same way in no funding for troops.  Said he won’t fund them with a timeline.  He’s rating pretty decent now.  Although he dropped a bit with women when he attacked McCain.  Saying it’s time Iraqis spend their own money, and he’s now maxed out at the women’s rating and is almost there with men.  “For John McCain, there’s no end in sight to end this war.”

Palin: “Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq” and thats’ not what our troops needed.  The surge worked, and Obama can’t admit that.  Saying that Biden would’ve been on McCain’s ticket because he supported McCain’s stance on Iraq, and that he flip flopped when Obama picked him.  Saying Obama voted against troop funding.

Biden: Saying McCain voted against funding for troops.  Voted against it because it had a timeline in it to end the war.  Saying McCain has been dead wrong on fundamental issues on the Iraq War.  “There are the facts.”  He got pretty good ratings back there.

Ifill: Which is more dangerous: nuclear Iran or unstable Pakistan?

Biden: Pakistan already has nukes.  Could hit Israel.  Iran is not close to getting nukes, so both are very dangerous.  Saying that John still thinks that the battlefront on terrorism is in Iraq.  Ratings are really high, especially among women – he’s doing pretty good here.  Saying that we need to help them build schools (in Pakistan) and that’s where bin Laden lives.  We need to go after him.

Palin: Saying that both Petraeus and Al Qaeda said that the central battlefront was Iraq.  The only thing they agreed on.  Saying that Ahmadinejad is unstable (quoted him on Israel).  Talking about Obama meeting with nations without preconditions, showing naivety on Obama’s part.  And her ratings went from pretty good to neutral.

Ifill: Secretaries of State have advocated talking.  Are they wrong?

Palin: No.  We need diplomacy, but with dictators who hurt America cannot be met with just sitting down on a Presidential level like Obama said he’d do.  “Diplomacy is hard work by many people.”

Biden: That’s not true.  He didn’t say sit down with Ahmadinejad.  It surprises me that McCain doesn’t know that he doesn’t control the security apparatus of Iran.  Saying that McCain and Palin said they have passion for diplomacy, and we need talks with our friends and allies, yet our allies said, “Sit down and talk,” but we didn’t.  Rating pretty good there.  McCain said he wouldn’t sit down with Spain, a NATO ally who has troops in Afghanistan.  “I find that incredible.”  Rating great there – and yeah, that was a really dumb moment by McCain.

Palin: Forging peace will be top of McCain/Palin agenda.  We will never allow a second Holocaust, even if that’s what Iran warns of.  Saying we need more peace, but we need commitment, and we’ll give that commitment.  Great ratings there.

Biden: “Nobody has been a friend to Israel in the Senate as much as Joe Biden.”  What about Bernie Sanders?  I’m just assuming that since he’s Jewish he supports Israel, but I could be wrong.  Talking about Hezbollah and that they’re a legitimate part of the government of Lebanon.  We will change this policy, and stand with Israel, not insist that policies are past.  Rating great there.

Palin: Saying that she’s glad Biden cares so much about Israel.  Saying that we can’t keep finger pointing at Bush (like Biden just did – I left that out when I typed above).  Put partisanships aside – he’s known as the Maverick.  It’s good that she’s bringing that up.

Biden: How different will McCain’s policy be different than Bush’s?  He hasn’t heard how it’s different.  On Israel, Iran, Pakistan.

Ifill: What should be the trigger when nuclear weapons use is put into play?

Palin: Dangerous regimes cannot be allowed to get nukes.  “Period.”  Saying we need sanctions on nations like North Korea.  On Afghanistan, McCain’s stance is different than Bush’s – McCain will use surge principles, just like we did in Iraq, and it worked.  Saying we’re fighting terrorists and securing democracy and building schools.

Biden: On Afghanistan–commanding general said that the surge principle will not work in Afghanistan.  And Biden’s ratings are pretty good now.  Spent more in 3 week on Iraq than 6 1/2 years in Afghanistan.  Ratings are pretty good there.  Saying that McCain hasn’t supported nuclear test ban treaties.

Palin: Saying that the general didn’t say that the surge principles wouldn’t work.

Biden: Saying that the general DID say that.  Obama, Hagel, Biden, and Lugar have called for more money in Afghanistan.  McCain said we had already succeeded in Afghanistan.  We need to spend more in Afghanistan than on Iraq.

Ifill: Biden, you’ve had an interventionist stance.  Should America continue this?

Biden: It worked in Bosnia (this is something Ifill brought up), and he supported it and was the first for it.  On Iraq, he voted to let us go to war, but opposes it.  We needed to have our allies with us.  In Darfur, we cannot allow for the genocide – we need to provide helicopters.  And the ratings skyrocketed.

Palin: Saying that she must be a Washington outsider, since she doesn’t get why he switched his views, and compared him to Kerry.  Saying that he opposed Obama’s strategy and now is for it.  We can agree on Darfur, specifically the no-fly zone.  And her ratings are going up decently.  Talking about not using money that would look like we will allow travesties in Darfur.

Ifill: When is the line to be drawn to go to War?

Biden: Can we afford it?  When a country engages in genocide / terrorism, that country forfeits their right to say that we can’t intervene.  Saying that he predicted Sunni/Shia conflicts.

Palin: I disagree with you on whose strategy you supported.  John Mccain has faced challenges and knows what evil is, and will know how to implement commanders, and will know how to win a war.

Ifill: If the worst were to happen, how would a Biden administration differ from an Obama administration?

Biden: I’d carry out policies – accurate health care, an energy policy that creates new jobs.  A foreign policy that gives power to Iraq.  Reject the Bush doctrine.  He’s rating as high as he can among womenn, and VERY good among men.  It’s the most important election you’ll have voted in since 1932.  I agree with Obama on every major suggestion.

Palin: Talking about disagreeing on drilling in ANWR, continue good work he started – getting rid of greed in Washington and Wall Street.  The money needs to be put to the average family.  And her ratings are skyrocketing – maxed out for women, very high for men.  Talking about Obama’s plan being bad for our economy.

Biden: Saying that it’s been Bush’s economic policy that hurt us.  Saying that McCain says he’s different, but he really isn’t.  “The middle class has gotten the short end.”  Very good ratings.

Palin: Saying that teachers need more pay.  We need better education.  Her ratings are doing pretty good.  Education in America is just accepted to be a little bit laxed, and that’s unacceptable.  We need to reform No Child Left Behind.  Very high  ratings among women and pretty good for men.

Ifill: What does the Vice Presidency do?

Palin: Talked about her saying a lame joke, “and yours must’ve been a lame joke too because nobody got it.”  Pretty funny.  Talking about presiding over the Senate.  Saying “McCain has tapped me and that’s where he wants me” – dealing with special needs children – might’ve been education, I missed part of it.

Biden: “I would be the point person for legislative initiatives.”  Saying that he’ll give Obama his best advice.  Sahying that he won’t be afraid to tell Obama if he disagrees.  Pretty good ratings.  And he’s showing himself being somewhat of a Maverick or independent, and willing to disagree with HIS president.

Ifill: Opinion of Cheney’s Vice Presidency.

Palin: Talking about doing best for the American people in cooperating with the President’s agenda, and that there’s a lot of flexibility.  Talking about her executive experience, and those years will be put to good use.

Biden: It’s been the most dangerous we’ve had.  Only preside over Senate when there’s a tie vote.  Give President advice.  His ratings are VERY high right now.  Criticizing Cheney’s defining the VP as a legislative job.

Ifill: What are your Achilles heels?

Palin: Responding to Ifill (who asked if it was her experience).  I was experienced in being a governor and mayor, and I’m tapped into average families.  Talking about standing for tolerance, freedom, and equal rights.  Combine that with being a team of reform and it’s a good ticket.  Pretty good ratings.

Biden: Responding to it being his lack of discipline.  I’ll place my record against McCain’s.  Talking about crime bills.  Talking about it knowing what it’s like to be a single parent.  Saying that he’s much better off than many Americans now, but the notion that because he’s a man, he doesn’t know how to raise to kids alone.  And he’s getting emotional here – and it is really appealing to the focus group – that was Biden’s best moment right there – and it was a GENUINE moment.  It’s going to be hard for Palin to make any comeback from that without looking bad.

Palin: Americans aren’t looking for more of the same.  Talking about John McCain’s Maverick position.  And she’s not doing well with the focus group, just as I predicted.  Talking about not allowing Wall Street greed, and now she’s picking up ratings.  “Change is coming and John McCain” will bring reform.

Biden: McCain is not a Maverick – he voted for Bush’s budget.  He voted against putting children into health care coverage.  Not a Maverick on education, on the war, on virtually anything that affects the average people.  He’s rating pretty high.  “Maverick he is not on the important issues that affect people at the kitchen table.”

Ifill: Single issue where you had to change a long-held view to accommodate circumstances.

Biden: Yes, the only thing that mattered for a judicial nominee was a moral person who hadn’t committed crime.  Now I realized that ideology matters, and he gave an example of somebody he opposed.  Women liked his response, but Men are rating him neutral.  “I’m glad I did [change on that].”

Palin: There’ve been times when I was governor and mayor that I didn’t like, but didn’t veto.  Times when I wanted to cut taxes, but didn’t have enough support.  Never a time when I had to change my views because up in Alaska, we’ve been able to compromise and work things out.  That’s what I’ll do in Washington, and that’s what McCain has done.

Ifill: How do you change the tone and promote bipartisanship, after looking at the bailout vote?

Biden: I’ve worked across the aisle and changed opinions of my party and the Republicans.  Saying that people shouldn’t question motives of members of the Senate.  Question their judgment, not motives.  And he got pretty good ratings there – that was a pretty good statement.

Palin: Do what I did as Governor – walk the walk and appoint people from both parties.  Work together.  Let policies and proposals speak for themselves.  Lower taxes on workers and businesses.  Rein in spending.  Don’t support a ticket that will increase spending.  And her ratings were doing really good, but she’s dropped a bit.

Ifill: Closing statements.

Palin: Glad to be here and glad to meet Biden and debate him.  Wants to speak to people without filters – just speak to them.  We’ll fight for the average American people.  Always been proud to be an American, and so has McCain.  We need to fight for freedoms.  “Freedom is always a generation away from extinction.”  We will fight for freedom, and only McCain has fought for you.

Biden: Thank you, and it was a pleasure to meet you Governor.  This is the most important election you’ve ever voted in.  There’s a need for fundamental economic and foreign policy change.  Obama and I don’t look at that based on CEOs and tax credits to Exxon/Mobil, but when sending a kid off to fight in a war.  They should be guaranteed best health care and education.  Really good ratings right now.  Talking about believing in selves and accomplishing things, and that’s why him and Obama are running – to reestablish that mood.  It’s time for America to get back up together.  May God bless you, and may God protect our troops.

Ifill: Thank you to the Commission, the University, Governor Palin and Senator Biden.  “Good night everybody.”

Palin: “Thank you so much!  Thank you Gwen.”

Why is her mic still on?  that’s weird.

So, my analysis overall:

  • I didn’t like the fact that Palin avoided some of the questions at the beginning.  She lost some points with me here.
  • Biden got a little wordy and confusing toward the end at some points, but it wasn’t a huge issue.
  • I give a lot of credit to Biden for being a single dad.  When he started getting emotional, that was a powerful moment, and I felt for him – I could feel the emotion just watching him.  It didn’t affect the outcome of the debate (at least not in my mind), but I think credit needs to be given to him for that.

Overall, I call it a Biden victory.  Perhaps it’s just because I was going into this thinking that Palin wouldn’t perform well, but I didn’t think she did too bad, but I would definitely say that I am confident that Biden won.  I really don’t think that either campaign will get a bump from this, but if anybody will, I think it’ll be McCain.  Like I said earlier today, it was Biden’s debate to lose.  He performed very well, but Palin did as well, and for Biden to help the Obama ticket much more, he would’ve needed to blow her out of the water, and that just didn’t happen.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Obama’s “I’ve Got a Bracelet Too” Comment Was Disrespectful to Troops

September 29, 2008

Alright, this is (presumably) my last post about Friday’s debate.  The following is an exchange between Senator McCain and Senator Obama, regarding Afghanistan:

When I originally watched that, what struck me the most was Obama saying (1:17), “Uh, Jim, th-l-let me just make a point: I’ve got a bracelet too.  From Sergeant–uh–uh–from the mother of–uh–Ryan David Jopek, given to me in Green Bay.”

Now, first, I know that me putting the stuttering in there looks kinda bad, but I have a point to that.  The part that struck me most offensive was the “Let me just make a point: I’ve got a bracelet too.”  It came across as Obama saying something like, “Oh yeah, well I’ve got…”  And my (liberal) roommate agreed with me – he found that part as a bad statement from Obama (and again, thanks to my roommate for all he’s helped me with on the blog – especially during the debate, when I couldn’t keep up with typing as fast as they were talking).

The media had raised the fact that Obama stuttered over Sergeant Jopek’s name, and at first, based on initial videos that I watched I was going to dismiss it to the fact that Obama is really not that great of a speaker, especially in debates (as evidenced by the stuttering and the “um”s, which is why I included it.  It’s not an insult to him, it’s just the truth.  I love Representative Tom Tancredo [R-CO], but I’ll be the first to admit–and I have–that when it comes to speaking, he’s just atrocious).

Then I watched the video again today.  Notice as he’s trying to get the name out, that he looks down.  My thought was that the name is on the bracelet and he’s trying to read the name.  I don’t know if my theory is right or not, but if it is correct, it gives more credit to the people who were claiming that Obama forgot the name of the soldier.

Again, even if he did “forget” the name, I think this could be credited to the fact that he was probably nervous, and that’s what I credit a lot of his stuttering to (it seemed higher than normal).  The biggest problem that I had with that statement was his whole attitude.  The irreverent attitude of “I’ve got a bracelet too.”  It came across that he was just using the sacrifice that Sergeant Jopek gave for political gain.

We have to be very careful when we use military heroes as examples.  When our soldiers become methods to get points across instead of the REASON that we are making the point, we have trivialized their sacrifices and have dishonored them.  This is unacceptable, no matter who does it or what party they are from.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the September 26 Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

September 26, 2008

**My apologies for any typos – I tried to catch all of them, but live blogging a debate is hard, and my keyboard acts up from time to time (especially the space bar), so if you see a typo, just leave a comment and I’ll fix it.**

We’re about a minute out, I’ll be live blogging the whole event.  Jim Lehrer (PBS) is the moderator.  I’ll be watching CNN (it would be FOX, but they weren’t ready on time).

The Ku Klux Klan is in the audience, we’ve heard, but not in robes and not protesting.

First question, “Where do you stand on the financial recovery plan?”

Obama: Thank you to everybody – the usual beginning.  “Worst financial crisis since the great depression. … We have to move swiftly and we have to move wisely.”  Talking about oversight, since it’s a lot of money.  Taxpayers need to be able to get the money back.  Shouldn’t be padding CEO bank accounts.  Talking about trickle down economics not working.  That’s not going to help him win over any Republicans.

McCain: Senator Kennedy is in the hospital.  Thank you to the sponsors, etc.  Talking about seeing Democrats and Republicans sitting down and working together, and the magnitude of the crisis.  Emphasizing that we have to work together, something that Obama didn’t mention – that was good from McCain.  Talking about having options for loans for businesses, not the government taking over those loans.  GOOD – not a pure bailout!  CNN has an audience  reaction, and McCain is getting a pretty good response from the Independents (must be some keypad rating system or something).  Talking about a lot of work to do if this will work.  Eliminate dependence on foreign oil – good.

Lehrer: Do you favor this plan?

Obama: I “haven’t seen the language yet.”  “How did we get in this situation in the first place?”  Talking about him warning 2 years ago that mortgage abuse would lead us down a trail we can’t afford to go down.  “Yes, we have to solve this problem short term, … but … look at how we shredded so many regulations … and that has … to do with an economic philosophy that says regulation is bad.”

Lehrer: “Will you vote for the plan?”

McCain: “Sure.”  Talking about warning about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  Talking about getting flack for calling for resignation of Securities and Exchange Commission.  And the Independents’ rating has skyrocketed.  Republicans increased too.  It was good – him calling for the resignation, and people like that.

Obama: Talking about people struggling before this crisis.  It’s interesting – the Dems are rating Obama higher than the Indies, but the Indies rated McCain higher than the Reps.  Talking about holding ourselves accountable, all the time, talking about nurses and teachers, and politicians not paying attention to them.  Good – he’s appealing to the average Americans here, and that’s who he needs to win over.

McCain: “We have a long way to go.”  Need consolidation of regulatory agencies who failed and let us slip into this crisis.  Talking about the greatness of the American worker, and the Republicans like it, but it’s not that appealing to Independents, but it will appeal to a lot of average Joe Americans, as long as they believe he’s sincere (and the audience must not have).

Lehrer: How do we get out of the crisis?

McCain: Spending control.  And the Reps and Inds, liked it – and this is one of McCain biggest points, and now he’s talking about Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a huge anti-earmark politician.  Talking about the DNA testing of bears.  I LOVE McCain saying he’ll veto earmarked bills.  It’s one of his best stances.  He’s talking about Obama asking for earmark spending.  Talking about not being able to rein in spending with a plan like Obama’s.

Obama: The earmark process has been abused.  Lobbyists and special interests introduce these things, often times.  Contrasting the cost of earmarks against tax cuts (by allegedly McCain) for CEOs and big companies.  “Grow the economy for the bottom up.”  Tax cut for 95% of working families.  HOLD IT!  Only 90% of working families even PAY taxes!!!!  Come on Obama, don’t lie.

McCain: Obama suspended those earmarks after he started running for Congress.  YOU TELL ‘EM MCCAIN!  He’s saying that earmarks have tripled in 5 years, even though “it’s only $18 billion” (as pro-earmarkers say).  He was called the Sheriff.  That’s pretty sweet.  As I was saying before, we need to take Coburn’s example and STOP EARMARKS!

Obama: Interrupted McCain (must be kinda less formal).  Talking about priorities, and shipping, and I missed the rest.  Saying he’ll keep us from spending unwisely.  Earmarks alone won’t get us back on track.  The Democrats are loving this, but the Independents, aren’t really liking it.

McCain: Talking about the business tax, that we pay the 2nd highest in the world, 35%.  “I want to cut that business tax.  I want to cut it.”  “It’s a lot more than $18 billion in pork barrel spending.”  And he’s right, it’s SO much more than that, and it’s hidden in so many bills.  The Independents are liking this.  “I want every family to have a $5,000 refundable tax credit” for healthcare.  Double the dependent amount refund for children.

Obama: “Here’s what I can tell America 95% of you will get a tax cut.”  LIAR.  10% don’t even PAY taxes.  And another 5% make over $200,000, and he won’t give them a tax cut.  LIAR!  Saying McCain wants to add an additional tax cut over the loopholes.  Talking about McCain’s health care tax credit.  Saying McCain wants to tax health benefits.  That’s not true.

McCain: Talking about an energy bill with breaks for oil companies, and McCain voted against it, but Obama voted for it.”  Obama tried to interrupt – that just looks tacky when he keeps doing it.  Saying that Obama has shifted on a number of occasions.

Obama: Talking about Obama lying about the oil companies.  “I was opposed to those tax breaks … tried to strip them out.”

Lehrer: “As President … what are you going to have to give up … as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?”

Obama: “Right now, it’s hard to anticipate what the budget is going to look like next year.”  He’s right about that.  “Energy independence.”  Talking about solar, wind, biodiesel here at home.  And the Independents REALLY loved that – highest rating I’ve seen all night.  Fix our healthcare system.  Compete in education – science and technology.  “Make sure our children are keeping pace in math and in science.”  Make college affordable for all.  That’s not even useful.  Not EVERYBODY needs college.  America needs plumbers and other basic labor workers too.

McCain: “No matter what, we have got to cut spending.”  Obama has most liberal rating.  “It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.”  Do away with cost-plus contracts.  Talking about defense contracts and needing fixed-cost contracts.  And he’s absolutely right.  One of the big areas we need to save money is in defense contracts.  Talking about fixing a contract with Boeing, and people ending up in prison because of it, but hte Independents didn’t like that too much.

Lehrer: Neither of you are really going to have big changes?

Obama: “I want to make sure that we are investing in energy in order to [break off from] foreign oil.”  Right now, even the Democrats aren’t giving him a good audience reaction.  The Republicans are giving him a higher rating!  Saying that him being wildly liberal is just him opposing George Bush.  And that spiked the Dems’ rating.  Saying that he’s worked with Coburn so that taxpayers can see who’s promoting spending projects.

Lehrer: “How [will] this effect you in the approach you will take to the Presidency.”

McCain: Spending freeze on all but Veterans, defense, and I forget what else.

Obama: You’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel.  But heck, that’d have to be a big scalpel.  But he does have a point here.

McCain: We’re sending money overseas, and some of that goes eventually to terrorists (through oil).  We need nuclear, solar, wind, offshore drilling, etc…  Get 70,000 (?) jobs by building nuclear plants throughout the country.  And Obama is against this.  And that’s one thing that really angers me about Obama – WE NEED NUCLEAR!

Obama: “There is not fact that it [economic crisis] will affect our budgets” even if we get the $700 billion back.  “If we’re lucky and do it right, that could potentially happen.”  “We can expect less tax revenue.”  And he’s really not getting a good audience response here.  Talking about not being able to leave out healthcare, and the Independents’ and Republicans’ approval just dropped.

McCain: Families should make decisions between themselves and doctors, not federal government.  “I have fought to cut spending.”  “Obama needs to cancel new spending programs.”  Talking about taking care of veterans.  Healthy economy, lowering, not raising taxes, with spending restraint.  And the independents liked that.  Talking about owing China money, and saying he’s fought against excessive spending.  And the ratings are skyrocketing – and again, I LOVE his stance on spending!

Obama: It’s been your President who presided over this spending.  But Bush and McCain aren’t the same.  Stop pretending they are.  That still got a good reply from the Independents.

McCain: I have opposed the President on spending, torture, Guantanamo, climate change.  Talking about being an Independent and Maverick, and having Sarah Palin as the same.  His ratings stunk right there.  He lost Dems, Reps, and Inds.

Lehrer: On to Iraq.

McCain: “Our initial military success … Baghdad, and everybody celebrated.”  Then the war was mishandled.  Came up with a new strategy.  It’s succeeding.  The Inds and Dems rating has fallen a lot, but hte Reps are rating him high.  Talking about the consequences of defeat being Iranian influence higher, more sectarian violence, and U.S. having to come back (referring to defeat before the surge).  And the Inds just started to rate him a lot better.  I think he did as good as he could back there.

Obama: I would’ve voted against it.  “We hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan … caught bin Laden … and put Al Qaeda to rest.”  Talking about soon to be a trillion dollars spent, plus 4,000 lives lost.  Saying that Al Qaeda is stronger than ever.  “We took our eye off the ball.”  Talking about Iraq having a surplus while we’re losing money.  He’s bringing up a LOT of good points that I thought would appeal to people, but he’s not rating THAT great, although the Dems really like him.  Now it’s peaked a bit more.

McCain: President will have to decide how and when we leave and what we leave behind.  He’s absolutely right.  Obama saying surge worked, but he’d still oppose it.  And he lost a lot of Indy rating points just back there.  But he’s right.  Obama is simply sticking by what he said even though what he said was WRONG!

Obama: Talking about McCain being right about reduced violence.  Saying troops and Petraeus doing a good job.  But that made up for mismanagement before that.  War started in 2003, not 2007.  Saying McCain said it’d be quick and easy, but he was wrong.  Saying we’d be greeted as liberators, but we weren’t.  And he lost a lot of support from Inds, but he’s still doing better than McCain has on Iraq.

McCain: Saying Obama doesn’t have military experience, he’s got some better support form Inds and Reps now.  Saying that this strategy and general are winning, but Obama refuses to acknowledge this.  (Obama: “That’s not true.”)  Talking about elections and peace coming to Iraq, and the strategy will be employed in Afghanistan in a McCain administration, and the Inds went up a bit there.  Talking about Obama voting against troop funding.

Obama: McCain opposed funding for troops in a timetable bill.  Had a difference on timetables, not funding.  And Obama’s right.  It always looks bad on paper when you vote against funding, but if you don’t agree with the overall bill, don’t vote for it.  I have to side with Obama here, and the Inds liked that a lot, and even the Republicans aren’t that negatively rating him.  Reduce combat troops in Iraq.  “Capture and kill bin Laden.”  We don’t have enough troops to deal with Afghanistan.

McCain: Saying that military leaders saying that Obama’s plan would be bad for the troops.  Talking about Petraeus praising the progress we’ve made.  Saying that under Obama’s plan, we’d have been out before the surge could have even succeeded.  Saying that Obama’s plan will “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Lehrer: How many and when (if more troops in Afghanistan)?

Obama: As soon as possible.  Saying that this year has been the year for highest troop fatalities.  Can’t separate Afghanistan from Iraq.  And the Independents are rating him lower than the Repubs now – that’s surprising.  Saying that Al Qaeda is the greatest threat against us, and that we have to deal with them in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Iraq.  Press the Afghan government to make sure that they’re working for their people.  And he’s absolutely right – we need to press the Afghani government.  Talking about needing to reduce the poppy trade over there.  And that’s another area we need to work on.

McCain: Talking about not being ready to threaten Pakistan, because that’d be dangerous.  We need to get support of the people of Pakistan.  And the Independents are rating him pretty high here.  Saying that Obama doesn’t understand that we need a new strategy.  Saying that Pakistani terrorists are married to Al Qaeda and Taliban.  Ratings are very high from Reps and Inds.  Although it’s dropped now.  Saying we need more troops in Afghanistan, but saying that we have put more in already.  Talking about Obama publicly saying he’d attack Pakistan.

Obama: Saying that if we have Al Qaeda in sights, and Pakistan won’t help us take them out, then we need to take them out.  Again, I have to side with Obama here.  Talking about McCain singing “Bomb Iran.”  And that was so stupid of McCain, and really makes him look like a hypocrite a bit here.  Although he lost a lot of ratings there surprisingly.  Talking about not going after Al Qaeda, and they’re more powerful than ever.

McCain: Talking about him being a new Congressman – Reagan wanting to send Marines into Lebanon, and McCain voting against it, because he didn’t think that 300 Marines could make a difference, and saying that he was right – many Marines were killed in the bombing.  Talking about voting for going into Bosnia, when it wasn’t popular.  Saying that we need more than a peace-keeping force in Somalia.  And he’s right.  We need to do what’s RIGHT, not what’s popular!  Saying that our mission NEEDS to succeed.  And he’s absolutely right.  We don’t want defeat, and we cannot afford defeat!  “We won’t come home in defeat and dishonor and probably have to go back if we fail.”

Obama: “No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain. … We honor the service they’ve provided. … Are we making good judgments” for keeping America safe, because sending troops is such a huge issue.  “We are having enormous problems in Afghanistan.”  Saying it’s not true that McCain has consistently cared about Afghanistan.  Saying McCain said we could “muddle through” Afghanistan.

McCain: “I’ve visited Afghanistan … and I know what our needs are.  We will prevail … and we need a new strategy.”  If we adopt Obama’s plan, we’ll fail in Iraq, and that will have a great effect on Afghanistan.  Obama fails to see that the 2 are connected.

Lehrer: “What is your reading from the threat from Iran?”

McCain: If Iran acquires nukes, it’s a threat to Israel and other countries.  Others will feel the need to get nukes.  “We can’t afford a second holocaust.”  Proposing a league of Democracies who would impose sanctions on Iranians, since the Russians won’t do it.  “The Iranians have a lousy government, so their economy is lousy, even though they have significant oil revenues.”  A nuclear Iran is a threat to the world.  They’re putting IEDs in Iraq.  They’re a sponsor of terror.  And he’s getting some pretty good ratings right now, from both Indeps and Repubs.

Obama: Talking about the thing that strengthened Iran was the War in Iraq.  Their involvement has grown.  They’ve tried harder to get nukes.  “We cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.”  It would threaten Israel, and “create an environment [that would] set off an arms race in the Middle East.”  We can’t have sanctions without Russia and China.  Well Obama, you’re not going to get Russia OR China to side with you!  You’re dreaming if you think you will.  Saying we need to talk to leaders in Iran and North Korea, and he as President will.

McCain: Senator Obama twice said he’d sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, and Castro.  Ahmadinejad is in New York now talking about extermination of Israel.  Saying that we can’t sit down without preconditions.  And he’s right.  NO President has ever sat down without preconditions (Reagan didn’t, JFK didn’t, and Nixon didn’t).  And now McCain is using examples that I just gave.  “I’ll sit down with anybody, but there’s gotta be preconditions.”  GOOD job McCain!  You’re absolutely right.

Obama: Ahmadinejad isn’t the most powerful person in Iran.  Saying as President, he can sit down with whoever he wants if it keeps America safe.  Saying that we CAN meet without preconditions, but not do with what we’ve been doing where we say you must do X or we won’t meet with you.  “Of course we need preparations.”  “It may not work.  Iran is a rogue regime.”  Obama is getting pretty much the same ratings now as McCain was getting a minute ago (about a third of the way between neutral and as positive as you can go).  “The Bush Administration and McCain’s advisors (Kissinger)” think we should meet without preconditions.  Saying McCain said we can’t meet with Spain, a NATO ally.

McCain: “Kissinger never said that the President could meet with Ahmadinejad.”  “Obama doesn’t understand that without precondition … you legitimize those comments [against Israel]. … It’s dangerous.”  Talking about North Koreans breaking everything they’ve ever said they’d do.

Obama: McCain keeps saying that I’ll meet with somebody without preparing – this isn’t true.  “We do not expect to solve every problem before we initiate talks.”  The Bush administration realized this doesn’t work.  “The notion that we’d meet with Ahmadinejad as he spews his comments is” wrong.

McCain: Kissinger would not say “that Presidential, top level” communications should be made without preconditions.

The two are going back and forth, and ratings are dropping a lot.

Lehrer: How do you see the relationship with Russia?

Obama: “Our entire Russian approach needs to be reevaluated. … Actions in Georgia were unacceptable and unwarranted.”  They need to get out of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The Democrats really aren’t liking what he’s saying here.  The Inds are rating him higher than Dems are.  We can’t go back to a Cold War status with Russia.  We need to deal with loose nuclear weapons when it comes to Russia.  “Deal with Russia based on [our] national security interests.”

McCain: Obama doesn’t understand that Russia committed aggression against Georgia when he said that both sides need to back down a bit.  He’s compared Putin to the KGB.  We can’t go back to the Cold War.  The Georgian War “had everything to do with energy.”  McCain’s rating a bit better than Obama, but neither are performing well right now with the audience.  “The Russians ought to understand that we’ll support … the inclusion of Georgia, and Ukraine … into inclusion of NATO.”  The Russians violated their cease fire agreement.  Saying that Russian intentions toward Georgia – just waiting to cease the opportunity.  Expecting Russians to behave as a country who will respect boundaries.  And he’s right – Russia can’t be left to keep doing what it’s been doing.  It HAS to respect the sovereignty of other countries.  McCain rating pretty decent now, compared to an average rating before.

Obama: McCain and I agree for the most part on these issues.  Says he disagrees with McCain a bit on Georgia.  I don’t think the Dems liked that – Obama is doing a decent amount worse than McCain was doing.  Talking about Russian peace keepers in Georgia not making sense and that we needed international peace keepers there, and that might have avoided the situation.  And Obama is right there.  Talking about energy.  We need to increase offshore drilling.  “We can’t drill our way out of the problem.”  Talking about needing wind, solar, and nuclear.  And now he’s rating higher than McCain was at the end of McCain’s last statement.  Saying McCain voted against alternative energy 23 times.

McCain: Saying that Obama is really against nuclear, and that offshore drilling would help more than Obama says it would.  McCain is getting pretty low ratings now, especially from Dems.

Obama: I have never said that I object to nuclear waste, but I’d store it safely.

McCain: I’ve always been for alternative energy.

Lehrer: What do you think the likelihood is of another 9/11 attack?

McCain: Much less than the day after 9/11, but we’re not safe yet.  Talking about working across the aisle to establish the investigation commission.  Saying we need interrogators who won’t use torture.  Saying that we are safer now.

Obama: We need to do more in terms of securing transit and ports.  Biggest issue is not missiles coming over skies, but from a suitcase.  Spending billions on missile defense, which we need because of Iran/Korea, but we need more for other areas as well.  Ratings are pretty high for him here.  We need more cooperation with allies.  “The way we are perceived in the world” will affect the cooperation we get.  He’s right here.  We have slipped in terms of how we’re viewed by the world.  McCain has a good stance on terror.  And the ratings right there are the highest they’ve been at any time during the debate, even Reps rated him decently high.

McCain: If we fail in Iraq, Al Qaeda will establish a base in Iraq.  McCain isn’t rating too good right now, especially with Inds and Dems.  We can’t have specific dates for withdrawal.  We’ve had great success, but it’s fragile.

Obama: Saying that this administration has been solely focused on Iraq, and we haven’t captured bin Laden.  Talking about borrowing from China, and they’ve been active around the world, while we’ve been focused on Iraq.  We’re spending so much money, we can’t invest in health care or science/technology.  “We’ve never seen a nation who has a failing economy but maintains military strength, so this is a national security issue.”  The next President has to have better strategy for all the challenges we face.  Pretty good ratings there

McCain: Saying he’s been around involved in challenges.  Saying Obama doesn’t have  experience, but he does.  Talking about Obama failing to admit the success of the surge.  McCain is right here.  Obama is just being stubborn.  Saying that he’ll take care of veterans, that he has right judgment to keep nation safe and secure.  “I don’t need any on the job training.  I’m ready to go right now.”

Obama: Talking about his father being from Kenya, and that there’s not nation like America, where you can become so successful.  “Part of what we need to do … is to send a message to the world that we’ll invest in issues like education … how ordinary people can live out there dreams.”

McCain: Talking about coming home from prison and seeing veterans treated poorly, and working on bipartisan bills to see our veterans treated better.  I know how to deal with our adversaries and how to deal with our friends.

Lehrer: We’re done.  “Thank you and good night.”

McCain/Obama: “Good job.”

And there you have it – the wives are coming out and kissing each other.  A little more than the 90 minutes scheduled, but that’s ok.

OK, so who won?  Both Obama and McCain had some pretty good moments, but I don’t think there was a clear cut winner here.  I think both performed pretty much on the same level.  I’m not saying that the two were identical in debating, but I don’t think one did better than the other.  I absolutely hate saying this, because I love objectivity and clear cut answers, but I really do think it was a tie.

I’d love to go on more and more, but my hands are just killing me right now (hey – it was a lot of typing), so I think I’ve said most all of what I wanted to say.

By the way – a big thanks to my roommate who helped with correcting quotes and what was said.  It’s hard to keep up with typing and trying to listen, so a huge thanks to him for helping me out with this!

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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