Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Chuck Hagel: The “Perfect Fit” for Secretary of Defense

December 31, 2012

One of the first ways I got involved with politics was being part of the Internet movement that supported former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for President back in 2008.  Back then I ran the Michigan for Hagel 2008 blog and co-ran the Students for Hagel blog.  Once Hagel announced he wasn’t running, the group disbanded, but a few of the leaders of the movement have stayed in touch.  When rumors came out that President Obama was considering Hagel for Defense Secretary, we decided to come together and ensure that the smear campaign against Hagel wasn’t successful.

He has combat experience—having served in the Vietnam War as an infantry squad leader, he achieved the rank of Sergeant and was awarded multiple medals including two Purple Hearts.  After leaving the military, Hagel was dedicated to helping American troops and veterans.  He was appointed Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, where he fought for funding for VA programs, and he served as president and CEO of the USO.

Hagel also had a successful career in the private sector, co-founding a cell phone manufacturing company and serving as CEO of American Information Systems.

In short, Hagel has the military and administrative experience needed to be America’s next Secretary of Defense.

And despite the arguments made by some, Hagel’s positions do generally fit with the Republican Party.

Yes, it is true that Hagel was critical of many of President George W. Bush’s policies, including the Iraq War, but much of his disagreement with the Bush Administration dealt with the lack of transparency.  Throughout his Senate career, Hagel fought for transparency in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and encouraged open Congressional debate, rather than quick votes on such important issues.  Isn’t that at the heart of the Republican Party—encouraging open public debate instead of shady, quick votes to ram legislation through? Hagel captured this principle in saying, “To question your government is not unpatriotic—to not question your government is unpatriotic.” Considering that right now, the GOP is fighting for transparency on the issues of the conflict in Libya and Benghazi, doesn’t it make sense to support someone who fought for DoD transparency, from both a Republican President and a Democratic Senate?  The fact that Hagel’s fight for transparency transcended political boundaries is exactly the reason he’s perfect for the Department of Defense.  The Defense Secretary shouldn’t be loyal to a party; he should be loyal to American and her national security.  And Hagel has agreed with this, saying, “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president.”

And labeling Hagel a liberal based on his Iraq policy is absurd.  Hagel’s plan for Iraq was different than both the mainstream Republican and Democratic plans at the time. Rather than withdraw as soon as possible or stay indefinitely, Hagel advocated for moving our troops out of the areas of civil war and to the borders. This would ensure that terrorists did not flee or enter the country, while leaving the Iraqis to resolve the inner conflicts, a job that they, not the U.S., were best suited for.

On the issue of Israel, he has defended “our continued commitment to Israel’s defense” and acknowledged the “special and historic bond” between the U.S. and Israel. At the same time, he realizes that peace with its neighbors is the best thing for Israel.

While acknowledging that the defense budget needs to be cut, Hagel has never come out in support of across-the-board sequestration cuts.  In fact, it was because of reckless Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives that we are facing such drastic across-the-board cuts.  The defense sequestration cuts would come about as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was supported by 174 House Republicans and 28 Senate Republicans.  Passing such a bill to allow across-the-board cuts was reckless, and Hagel has never come out in support of sequestration; however, like many Republicans, he agrees that the Defense budget is bloated and should be cut where possible.

And Hagel supports continued sanctions against Iran and has never ruled out military action against Iran to prevent them from achieving nuclear capabilities.  But as a result of his experience in Vietnam, he realizes that we shouldn’t be putting our servicemen and women in harm’s way unless combat is absolutely necessary.  And that’s a good principle that the GOP should agree with.

Does Hagel agree with every single word in the Republican platform? No; but then again, who does? In fact, he had an 84% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Republicans could not ask for a better nominee for Secretary of Defense from a Democratic President, and instead of hounding Hagel for disagreements in the past, Republicans should rally around him as a defender of many conservative principles and causes.

Republicans can’t just oppose Hagel because they want to oppose the President.  It’s time to stop being the party of “No”.  Hagel is one of our own, and while he may lean more moderate, he’d make an excellent Secretary of Defense.  It would be a shame if his nomination or confirmation was destroyed because the GOP wants to oppose Obama.  There is no good reason the GOP should oppose someone like Hagel.

For those who would like to show their support for Chuck Hagel, I would encourage you to like the Facebook page that was started, and if you’re on Twitter, I would encourage you to use the hashtag #SupportHagel in your tweets on the subject.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

The Bill that Nobody Read: The Economic Stimulus Package (H.R. 1)

February 23, 2009

So, I know it’s been a while since Congress passed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus plan, but C-SPAN finally uploaded and categorized all the videos, so better late than never.  I wanted to show you all just how much the Democratic leadership tried to hide the details of the latest stimulus plan:

Here’s the first clip, courtesy of C-SPAN. In this clip, Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA) asks for additional time for debate, so that more than 90 minutes will available for debate. Lewis was not allowed to ask for the additional time (not sure if that’s in the rules of the House or one of the previous resolutions), so he asked Representative David Obey (D-WI) (Appropriations Committee Chairman) to do so, but Obey refused to allow for more debate time. Representative Tom Price (R-GA) then asked if the bill could be read aloud by the clerk, since no member had had time to read it; however, this request was refused because House resolution 168 made it so that the bill was to be considered read (even though it was physically impossible). This violated a previous promise by the Democrats to keep all bills available for 72 hours before a final vote was brought up.


 

In this clip, Representative Lewis shows how secretive the drafting of this bill was. Even many Democrats were left out of the negotiations.

 

Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY) emphasized that the Democrats refused to allow the House Clerk to read the bill and that debate was limited to 90 minutes. 

 

Representative Obey (D-WI) responds to Jack Kingston (R-GA) talking about appropriations to protect a mouse. He said that there’s nowhere in the bill that mentions a mouse. Well, that’s true – the word “mouse” is never in the bill; however, there is money for that’s given to the EPA for a saltwater marsh protection program where the focus of that is to protect a certain species of mouse (according to an EPA representative). So, while what Mr. Obey said was technically true, it would also be true if I said that the bill never talks about “tax cuts.” The phrase “tax cut” or “tax cuts” is never in the bill, but the legal equivalent is. So, Mr. Obey is really just playing with the words here, and he’s ultimately lying through his teeth. But what really makes him look like a fool is when he tells the Republicans to find the section they’re talking about, as he holds up the 1,000+ page bill that even HE didn’t have time to read through.


In this clip, Representative Zach Wamp (R-TN) has one of my favorite quotes of the debate, “If ever there was a massive bill where the devil is in the details, it is this bill. And there are many devils in the details of this bill.” He also does a good job at placing some of the blame on the Republicans.


Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) explains the mouse in the bill: “They say there is no mouse in this bill. But there is, sir. What they don’t tell you is that in the EPA projects, it cites for sure and for certain they will spend money on the salt marsh habitat for the mouse in San Francisco. Certainly, the Speaker is getting her cheese.”


In this clip, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) shows where the blame lies in saying that people borrowed and spent too much: “Too many of our fellow citizens borrowed too much. They spent too much, and they couldn’t pay it back. And now the mistakes of individuals, the Democrats want to force upon us collectively.” He also explains how the Congressional Budget Office says this bill was a disaster.


Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) (the youngest House member) talks about how we’re spending trillions at a time and that we can’t afford to get this wrong.


Representative Lewis shows, again, how unprepared Congress was to even debate the bill: “Mr. Speaker, we just received official scoring of the $792 billion bill at 12:04 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive this critical information until one-third of our very limited debate time was over.” He later goes on to say, “While portions of the bill were scored by CBO earlier, in the case of the appropriations section, 40 percent of this entire package, the Members have not had the benefit of knowing what effects this bill would have. Now that we have this information, let me tell you what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concedes.” Lewis also shows that the Democrats are simply rushing this through in one big bill instead of going through the proper appropriations channels: CBO estimates that only 11 percent of the money will spend out this year. It begs the question why has the majority decided to include this in this bill rather than through the regular appropriations process? Why have they decided to create 33 new programs and permanently expand 73 programs? By growing the Federal Government now in this bill, the majority knows that they have a much better chance of permanently increasing government.”


House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) goes over some great points on why he opposed the bill.


Alright, I hope that opened your eyes to how much the Democratic leadership in Congress tried to keep this bill hidden from the members of Congress before they voted on the bill.  So many of the Democrats in Congress have said that they wish that they would’ve asked more question before supporting the War in Iraq.  I’m guessing that many Democrats will be  saying the same about this bill in a year or 2.

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Where Was the Secret Service When President Bush Had 2 Shoes Thrown at Him?

December 15, 2008

Alright, I had hoped on doing this post earlier today, but I spent the entire day driving around trying to get a flu shot.

Anyway, I’m sure by now that most of you saw/heard about the incident where an Iraqi reporter threw 2 shoes at President Bush during a press conference on a surprise trip to Baghdad.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s the video:

Now, I can understand the Secret Service not stopping the first shoe throwing, but the second one (2 seconds later) never should have happened.  Why wasn’t the Secret Service shielding President Bush?  What if that hadn’t just been shoes?  What if it was a knife or some sharp object?

In my opinion, the Secret Service was way too slow to react here.  Hopefully something like this doesn’t happen again, but if it does, I hope the Secret Service does a better job of getting in the way quicker.

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Obama Advisor: Obama Likely to Not Repeal the Bush Tax Cuts

November 23, 2008

Well, I called this one (not on this blog, but another website I post on) over a month ago, when he said that a recession may make him delay the repealment of the Bush tax cuts.  Well, this morning on Meet the Press, an advisor on his transition team, Bill Daley (Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton), said that it’s looking like Obama isn’t going to push for them to be repealed, but just let them expire in 2011.  Here’s the transcript courtesy of Meet the Press:

MR. BROKAW: And let’s talk about taxes for just a moment ,if we can. The New York Times is reporting today that “in light of the downturn, Mr. Obama is also said to be reconsidering a campaign pledge: his proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. According to several people familiar with the discussions, he might instead let those tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2011, effectively delaying any tax increase while he gives his stimulus plan a chance to work.” Is that your understanding of what may happen?

MR. DALEY: That looks more likely than not, Tom, but the president-elect is very committed to the fact that there must be greater equity in, in the responsibility of, of taxes in this country. We must bring tax relief to the middle class. He has said this now for two years as he’s been out there on the campaign, and he’s going to deliver on that. That’s an integral part of his economic recovery package next year is to bring some tax relief to the American people and the vast majority who are in the middle class, not those of us who do much better than that. So I, I think he’s going, he’s, he’s got a great team he’s putting together: Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, a whole host of other people, that he’s charged with putting this plan together. I think he’s gone out to get the most competent, qualified, experienced people to put this together. We are, as Secretary Baker said, in the middle of an unprecedented economic crisis. We will come out of it, but these are times that no one’s ever seen, and it’s a global issue. And of all the people he’s put forward in these major jobs are very experienced in a global setting of economics also.

MR. BROKAW: And, Secretary [James] Baker [Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan], keeping the Bush tax cuts in place, will that be central to winning any Republican support for a massive public stimulus program of some kind?

MR. BAKER: Well, it depends on which you mean by keeping them in place. If that means he’s not going to try to repeal, not going to try to increase taxes during this very critical next two-year period, then, yes, it would be and probably would be if it means that he’s going to abandon the idea of, of keeping them, keeping taxes low thereafter. But let me, let me second what, what Secretary Daley said about the team that the president-elect is putting together. I think he’s appointed some extraordinarily capable people, and we’re going to see some more, as I understand it. And I think he’s to be commended for that. Bill Daley knows and I know that any new president has got to surround himself with competent advisers, and that’s even more so today when we’re facing the kind of economic crisis we’re facing.

May I say one other thing, Tom? I, I think that a lot of what we’re seeing out there today is a lack of confidence, and the president-elect and, as a matter of fact, the current president have to face this problem over the next 60 days. It’s unfortunate that we’re in this interregnum of a transition, but I think that something very useful might even come out of the two of them sitting down together and addressing not the, not the midterm, not the mid and long-term problem that we face that was the subject of the president-elect’s speech, but the–but facing–but addressing stability of our financial system and to see if there isn’t something that they could do jointly, together, over the next 58 to 60 days that would help us make sure that the–that the financial system is stabilized and, and secure. Because if that goes under, then this thing is even, believe it or not, going to get worse. And I think just the mere fact of their sitting down together and seeing if there’s not one thing that they could come together on would do a lot to restore confidence and, and remove the anxiety and fear that’s out there.

Well, now this is interesting, since Senator Obama has said that he would pay for his health care plan with the money that would come in from getting rid of the Bush tax cuts.  So, this will set him back 2 years which will be $100-$135 billion.

Like I’ve said before, Obama is all talk, on taxes, on Iraq, and on a lot of what he says.  He was elected on promises that he never intended to fulfill, but most Americans didn’t realize that.  Oh well, in 4 years, people will be begging for a Republican in the White House.  Either that, or they’ll excuse Obama by saying, “His problems were Bush’s fault.”  Knowing American voters, I’m scared that it may be the latter.

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Funny Exchange Between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

November 15, 2008

Jean-David Levitte, Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, reported the following exchange between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, back in August when the situation with Georgia was going on:

Levitte said that on August 12th, Sarkozy told Putin that the world would not react kindly if Russia overthrew the Georgian government, specifically Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, as Russian tanks were only 30 miles from Tbilisi.  He then reported the following exchange:

“I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Putin replied to Sarkozy’s above comments (which there is no exact quote for).

Sarkozy: “Hang him?”

Putin: “Why not?  The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Sarkozy: “Yes but do you want to end up like Bush?”

Putin, after recovery from a loss for words: “Ah, you have scored a point there.”

President Mikhail Saakashvili, after hearing the exchange, told reporters, “I knew about this scene, but not all the details.  It’s funny, all the same.”

Now, although this is somewhat amusing, it is also scary at the same time, because it confirms suspicions that Putin, not President Dmitry Medvedev, is really the one calling the shots in Moscow.

I will say, Sarkozy is one of my favorite foreign leaders, and I hope that he’ll continue to stand up against Russia.

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Evidence that Some Blacks Are Not Voting for Obama Based on Issues

October 19, 2008

So, a friend sent me a link to a clip from the Howard Stern show from last Sunday, and I put it into a video (as well as typed up a transcript which is below the video).  It’s one of Stern’s radio people, Sal, who goes into Harlem and interviews 3 black people and attributes McCain’s stances to Obama.  They say that they agree with those stances (thinking that they are Obama’s).

It’s pretty funny, but also pretty scary to think that these people are voting:

And here’s the transcript I typed up:

Please be advised that the following clip is not the property of BPM DJs.  It’s a bit from the Howard Stern show that I sent to a few friends in my office, and since, it’s gotten attention from around the world.  Now that you know a little bit of what you’ve been missing, I suggest getting a Sirius Satellite radio, and you’ll laugh every day.  Without any further delay, here’s Sal in Harlem.

Howard Stern: Uh, what else.  I don’t know.  So much more-I did promise to play you, this-I played it earlier in the morning; I’ll give it one more shot.  Sal did a rather brilliant thing.  He went up to Harlem to ask people who they were gonna vote for, and uh-most people said, “Barack Obama.”  So what he said is, “Do you still-do you support Obama’s views?” but he attributed all of McCain’s views to Obama.

Robin Quivers: Yes, yes.

Stern: And it didn’t-

Quivers: And it didn’t cause even-

Stern: It didn’t sway anyone.

Quivers: But it didn’t cause people to even flinch.  They moved right along.

Stern: This is crazy.  So listen to this:

Sal Governale: Some people speculate that blacks are voting for Obama strictly because he’s black and not because of his policies, so we took McCain’s policies and pretended they were Obama’s.  This is what they had to say:

Sal: For the election, Obama or McCain?

Man #1: I like Obama.

Sal: Now, what don’t you like about McCain?

Man #1: McCain seems to not really know what he’s doing right now.

Sal: Are you more for Obama’s policy because he’s pro-life or because he thinks our troops should stay in Iraq and finish this war?

Man #1: I think because our troops should stay in Iraq and finish this war.  I’m really firm with that-definitely.

Sal: Now how about as far as-um-him being pro-life?  Do you support Obama in that case?

Man #1: Yeah, I do.  I do.  I support him in that case.

Sal: And if he wins, would you have any problem with Sarah Palin being Vice President?

Man #1: No I wouldn’t.  Not at all.

Sal: So you-y-y-you think he made the right choice in that?

Man #1: I definitely do.

Sal: Thank you very much sir, and have a great day.

Man #1: Have a great day.

Stern: So they guy agreed with everything McCain is for, except he said it was for Obama.  Here’s another example:

Sal: Are you for Obama or McCain?

Man #2: Obama.

Sal: Ok, and why not McCain?

Man #2: Well, I just don’t agree with some of his-you know-policies-you know.

Sal: Now, Obama says that he’s anti-stem cell research.  How do you feel about that?

One quick note here.  McCain is not anti-stem cell research.  He is opposed to EMBRYONIC stem cell research.  There’s a big difference here, and often times, people just put both into the same pile.

Man #2: I-I believe that’s-I wouldn’t do that either.  I-I’m anti-stem cell stem cell-yeah.

Sal: Anti-stem cell research.  Now if Obama wins, do you mind Sarah Palin being Vice President?

Man #2: No.  No, I don’t.

Stern: Alright, there you go.  Now our third example which-uh-we found this woman:

Sal: This election, Obama or McCain?

Woman: Obama.

Sal: Now, why not McCain?  What don’t you like about him?

Woman: Um.  He sorta doesn’t sound like he has enough-like-he does-he’s not-he’s uneducated.  Because when he had the-um-they had the-both of the Presidents speaking, um-he didn’t sound like he knew what he was talking about too much, whereas Obama had facts and information when he was speaking.

The woman who talks about “when they had both of the Presidents speaking” is calling McCain uneducated?  I found her to be the funniest of the 3.

Sal: Good point.  Let me ask you this: Do you support Obama more because he’s pro-life or because he says our troops should stay in Iraq and finish the war?

Woman: Um-I guess both.

Sal: Now, if Obama wins, do you have any problem with Sarah Palin being his Vice President?

Woman: Um-nope.  Not at all.

Sal: Do you think she’ll do a good job?

Woman: I think she’ll do a good job.

Sal: Are you glad he elected her to be the VP if he wins?

Woman: Yep.

Sal: Thank you very much.

Woman: You’re welcome.

Stern: Alright, there it is.  Sal in Harlem-and-uh-doing his work [unintelligible] brilliantly.  There you go.  Dice clay, Andrew Dice Clay, as you know is uh- 

That should scare you.  That’s evidence right there that some people aren’t voting for Obama based on the issues.  And a lot of people attribute this to black people voting for Obama simply because he’s black.  Now, I’m not saying that this IS the reason, but there have been African Americans who have said that that is why they support Obama.

So, I just thought I’d share this with you – on the surface, it’s funny, but when you think about the fact that some of these people are picking our next President based on who knows what, it’s really scary.

Done Ranting,

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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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