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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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Live Analysis of the September 26 Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

September 26, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lehrer: Do you favor this plan?

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

Lehrer: “Will you vote for the plan?”

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

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

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

Lehrer: How do we get out of the crisis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lehrer: On to Iraq.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lehrer: How do you see the relationship with Russia?

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

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

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

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

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

McCain: I’ve always been for alternative energy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCain/Obama: “Good job.”

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

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

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

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

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Obama Discusses Negotiating with Controversial Foreign Leaders

March 28, 2008

While in Manhattan, NY, yesterday, Senator Obama was asked about his comments in months past about him meeting with and negotiating with controversial foreign leaders, such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Obama responded to the comment by saying, “I think people understand the notion of talking to our enemies.  If FDR can meet with Stalin and Nixon can meet with Mao and Kennedy can meet with Khrushchev and Reagan can meet with Gorbechav, then the notion that we can’t meet with some half-baked dictator is ridiculous.  I’m not worried about losing a propaganda war with Ahmadinejad.  That guy opens his mouth and I think people see there are problems there.”

Here’s the video from the debate in which Obama originally said that he would meet with leaders of countries who we don’t have great relationships with:

I agree with Obama here – there’s NO reason that we shouldn’t meet with leaders – we shouldn’t negotiate with them, but there’s no harm in meeting with them, and a meeting is only going to help (as long as the 2 leaders don’t go at each other).

But the next President may have to do more than just meet – who knows, military action may be needed – at this point, I don’t think any of the countries (Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea) listed in the debate question are nearing a level of danger that defies military intervention, but the next President will be in there for 4-8 years, and a lot can change in that time.  I hope that military action won’t be necessary (and I don’t think that it will), but I’m not going to say for certain that it won’t.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Hugo Chavez Sends 10 Batallions to Colombian Border

March 2, 2008

Today around noon EST, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered his defence minister to “move 10 battalions [several thousand soldiers] to the border with Colombia for me, immediately.”  This move is coming in response to Colombia moving 1 mile into Ecuador and killing Raúl Reyes, a top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), a terrorist organization in Colombia that was started as a military wing of the Colombian Communist Party.  Prior to Colombia’s invasion, Chavez had said that a move like this would be “cause for war.”

Chavez responded on his show, “Alo, President,” by saying that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is a “criminal,” and that the killing of Reyes, a “good revolutionary,” was “cowardly murder.”  He said that Colombia “invaded Ecuador [and], flagrantly violated Ecuador’s sovereignty.”

Chavez has also ordered that the Venezuelan embassy in Bogota be closed down, and all embassy personnel are to come back to Venezuela.

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, filed a formal complaint with the Colombian government, calling the invasion “scandalous.”

I will have further updates if the situation progresses.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Chavez’s Proposed Constitutional Amendment Fails Public Vote

December 4, 2007

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s proposed constitutional amendment failed the vote of the people on Sunday.

Among other things, the proposed amendment would have:

  • Eliminated Presidential term limits
  • Increased the Presidential term from 6 to 7 years
  • Realigned the territories
  • Shortened the workday
  • Giving the President more control of the Central Bank

The main concern among countries, especially America and other semi-democratic countries, was the elimination of term limits.  Chavez has vowed to attempt to pass these resolutions through other legal processes.

I say, good for the Venezuelan people, but watch out – as Chavez has said, he isn’t giving up – and it wouldn’t surprise me if he passed this resolution through a not so legal legal process.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican


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