Everybody's got that conservative uncle in Florida, and I've got one too ... he's a good sport about it though, so when he sent me an inaccurate chain email, I got possessed with the spirit and fired back.
Hi Uncle Bill,
Dear sir, you have ruined my plans for the evening. I feel this requires a thorough response, so I am cancelling my weekly Wiccan Vegetarian Potluck and Gay Flag-Burning Orgy to clear some space in my calendar. Hope you don't mind a bit of good-natured rebuttal from us here in the Godless Blue States.
[Spoiler Alert: The numbers in the you email sent us are, uh, fake. See bottom of this very long email for the details.]
2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE COMPARISON TALKING POINTS
You misspelled "Barack". Oh boy, this is going to take a while...
Favors new drilling offshore US
For me, a BIG point in Obama's favor, actually. Offshore drilling is little more than a handout to the oil companies. Let's phrase this one another way, shall we? Like, "John McCain favors giving away natural resource rights (currently held in the public trust) to the richest companies in the history of the world so that they can build polluting, obsolete extractive technology in hurricane-prone, environmentally sensitive areas like the reefs off of Florida--where Bill and Elaine live--so that in 10 years when the oil rigs finally go on line we can have 2% more domestic oil and save 10 cents a gallon at the pump . If the oil companies feel like it, that is."
Sorry, gas prices are high because we're not the only game in town anymore. Get used to it. India and China are coming on line. An Indian company just announced a $2000 car (they will sell millions of them). The emerging Chinese middle class is larger than the ENTIRE US population. You saw the Olympics. THAT'S where the demand is coming from. In 10 years, they'll be exporting all that offshore-drilled oil to China. And anyway, oil companies are already sitting on a ton of unused land claims, so it's not even clear that "letting them drill" necessarily means that they will.
But drilling isn't really the big issue. It's that these are generational trends we could see coming from a mile away, and it is nothing short of criminal that the Feds haven't done anything about it. It's one of the great missed opportunities in history that after 9/11, in those days when the country would have been willing to be led anywhere, Bush didn't say, "My fellow Americans, it's our dependence on foreign oil that has us tied up in the politics of the Middle East. We need to get off foreign oil, so I'm adding a 50 cent gas tax and using the proceeds to fund an Apollo project for new sources of energy."
But of course, Bush is an oil guy, so what we got instead was, "Go shopping. And here's a tax break to buy a Hummer!" I mean, I watched Romney leading the "Drill, baby, drill!" chant at the RNC this week and felt like I was looking at someone who wasn't even from the same PLANET as me. Is that seriously a cornerstone of their platform? In 2008?
See, my generation was born after Vietnam, the Space Race, and the first Gas Crunch. We grew up with personal computers and video games. The industry I work in (The Web) wasn't even INVENTED until 1990! We invented Google and the iPhone. We take impossible leaps forward in technology as a given. We don't want cheaper gas... we want an American-made electric car that charges itself off American-made solar panels. Screw offshore drilling, with incremental results in 10 years; by then, we want whole new INDUSTRIES of energy, so we can tell the Middle East to get bent. And if you look at the Presidential candidates, Obama's got a whole detailed platform and strategy on the topic, while McCain... had some windmills in one of his TV ads.
Yes, we need oil. But it's not sustainable. Within my lifetime, we will have moved to Something Else.
Will appoint judges who interpret the law not make it
This one is just adorable. Both will appoint judges who interpret the law because that's all judges are allowed to do under the Consitution. Conservatives have picked up on this language of "legislating from the bench", which they always seem to use whenever a judge overturns a plainly unconstitutional law they want. Like, say, suspending habeas corpus rights for American citizens .
Served in the US Armed Forces
There is no military requirement for the Presidency, so this is at best tangential. Some would argue that McCain's military experience at the height of the Cold War has left him with a Cold War mentality that's fighting yesterday's battles. I wholeheartedly support a strong (even unbelievably strong) military, because I am not naive about how the world works. It can be a freaking powerful tool, and the genius of our country is that it's under civilian control.
But there are no major armies left in the world who are going to be up against us in the future. China? Please. They're our biggest trading partner and they have a rapidly aging population not spoiling for war. Russia? Only if we have a few more years of Republican rule to get 'em good and pissed off, and even then it would take a decade or so just to scrape the rust off their armed forces. Iran? Good god, the population there is young, hip and LOVES Americans and all things American. They're just governed by a small, oppressive minority of fundamentalist religious freaks whom they despise. The answer there seems pretty simple: hold our fire and go the Soviet Union route, walling them off while feeding them the Internet and samizdat copies of old Baywatch episodes and let their own revolution bloom from within in 10 years. It's demographically inevitable. The only thing we could do to f*ck that up would be to invade them, which so far only seems to seem like a good idea to the current Republican Executive branch... and John McCain.
No, sorry, it's all 4th generation warfare from here on out. Small wars, small arms, police actions and nation-rebuilding projects. It has to be. That's what's LEFT. We WON the Cold War. Read Thomas P.M. Barnett for insight into how our military SHOULD be structured for the 21st century. Watch this video and tell me you don't think he makes sense. Bottom line: We can win ANY war we want to wage, period. But we need to transform the military to win the subsequent peace.
McCain seems to me like he'd be a hotheaded Dr. Strangelove-era C-in-C who still wants to Win The Big One. I find that anachronistic and, frankly, terrifying.
Amount of time served in the US Senate
McCAIN: 22 YEARS
OBAMA: 173 DAYS
Many would argue that this is not a point in McCain's favor, and the amount of Washington-insider power brokers running his campaign would seem to bear this out.
And, oh, 173 days is less than 6 months. Obama was elected in 2006. It's almost 2009.
Voted against making English the official language
"Can anyone tell me, why anyone would vote against making English our official language?"
I can, easy. Because it's a BULLSHIT ISSUE. In this age of American dominance in the financial, cultural and Internet worlds, there is absolutely no danger of anything happening to English. It has become the de facto official language of the WORLD, and we did that (USA! USA! USA!). Codifying that into law would do nothing but require a government department of Language Police like the Quebecois have (talk about a useless government program...).
The current system works fine, with English in use everywhere and other languages in use when local situations require. Like when one of my (legal!) Korean students has to go the hospital in NYC and needs a translator for "I am allergic to penicillin". I wouldn't want that to not happen because the Feds said it wasn't allowed. And if you're pissed about having to "Press 1 for English" when buying airline tickets over the phone, sorry, but that's the vaunted Free Market responding to consumer demand. Or are you in favor of the government telling private companies what they can and cannot do with their voicemail?
Voted to give Social Security benefits to illegals
"And how about giving our Social Security to illegals? I know that if you never paid into S.S. you may not care that it will run out of money and not be able to pay all of the people who have paid into it. To shamelessly give it away to law breaking border sneaking people just because they are here is sinful and almost unforgivable."
From FactCheck.org : "Republicans are tagging Democratic opponents across the country for wanting to 'give Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants.' But nobody's proposing paying benefits to illegals, not until and unless they become US citizens or are granted legal status."
I'm not hostile to immigrants. I think the borders should be secure and people should be documented (with real security measures: read Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier if you want to learn about how we get this wrong, repeatedly). But the vast majority of illegal immigrants are NOT illiterate Mexican border jumpers; they're people who got here legally and simply overstayed their visas. I know a few of them. Hell, I dated one. They love this country, work really freakin' hard, and want to stay as long as possible, mainly because their situations at home suck. They're THRILLED to pay taxes if it means they can be legit. If there's no path to citizenship, then they go underground. Or we deport them. It's pretty binary.
It comes down to whether or not you think immigrants bring something to the table or not. I live in New York City, and my experience is that immigrants (from literally every country) make my city a much better place to live. Some are illegal. Most are not. If they play by the rules I'd like to let them stay. New people arrive here all the time, we assimilate them, they come out Americans. It's no big deal. If they wanna pay taxes and contribute to my Social Security fund on the off chance that they might be made legal by the time they're due to collect, more power to 'em.
Immigrants might be real hassles in some cities, but in my PERSONAL experience, they're not.
Oh, and Social Security is not in danger . That's a creative accounting fallacy drummed up by people who are salivating about privatizing that money. When they say "give you control over your retirement money", they really meant "take safely stored Soc Sec money and let us gamble it in the stock market". Really? REALLY? You wanna look at another 500 point drop in the Dow today and tell me you're bummed that those wise guys didn't get to "invest" your Social Security check for you?
Will institute a socialized national health care plan
Let's leave aside the almost meaningless scare word "socialized", for starters, since none of the major candidates are going anywhere near "socializing" anything in their plans.
Read Obama's plan: http://www.barackobama.com/...
I've paid for my own health insurance for most of the last few years (I just took a new job with better coverage, but I gave up my own business to do that). I would have LOVED to have been in a plan that let me pay wholesale prices (with 300 million fellow Americans) instead of retail (to my local group plan health insurance company). What the hell good does it do to have lower taxes if I can't get decent health insurance as an independent entrepreneur for less than half my monthly rent? Still comin' outta my hide. Through arcane rules and bureaucracy, we've been dropped from coverage, reinstated, had things not paid for, and generally been hassled by insurance companies in a way that would have been utterly defeating if either of us had been real sick.
Wake-up call: giant bureaucracies ALREADY control our healthcare. It's simple economics. Given supply and demand, individuals can't control when they get sick ("demand"), so the only way for-profit health insurance companies can make money is to WITHHOLD CARE ("supply"). Crappy care isn't a customer service issue, it's their BUSINESS MODEL. It's insanity. It no more makes sense to have for-profit health insurance in a modern industrialized nation than it does to return to the days of for-profit fire insurance. "My neighbor's house is on fire? Let 'em burn... he should have bought fire department insurance instead of fixing his car last year." I happen to think our society gets stronger when my fellow citizens don't have to worry about where their health care is going to come from (or who's going to put out their fires). And yes, I am willing to pay higher taxes for that (provided I have correspondingly lower healthcare costs).
And on your earlier comment about "giving it away" being "sinful and almost unforgivable", the Republican battle cries of "Free Markets!" and "Less Regulation!" have DIRECTLY led to today's headlines of the Government stepping in to bail out the credit markets, the tab for which, as of the AIG bail-out, is up to $900 FREAKING BILLION of hard-earned taxpayer money. If you're going to refer to a Democratic health care plan as "socialized", please at least do me the intellectually honest favor of referring to the Republican economic plan from now on as "the socialized stock market". Free market, my ass.
Good lord, you could take a TINY FRACTION of that money and give the best health care in the world to every child in America (even the children of illegal immigrants, just because it's the Christian thing to do). Instead, we (that's YOU and ME, pal) are bailing out the wealthiest men in the world because their greed (aided and abetted by a pliant Congress -- Dems and Republicans, let's be honest -- and a distracted public) ran unchecked until their firms were "too big to fail". There should be CRIMINAL CHARGES filed in this debacle.
"Sinful and almost unforgivable", indeed.
Is Obama's health care plan perfect? No. I liked Hillary's plan better, actually, and hope they'll combine the two after the election. But McCain's is pretty much the status quo, except he won't charge sales tax or something. Gee, thanks. If you've got good coverage, God bless you, but healthcare is a catastrophe for a lot of people in this country.
I do agree, though, that we don't want our country to wind up being a socialized third world nightmare like Denmark.
Supports abortion throughout the pregnancy
Touchy subject. But polls show, have shown, and continue to show that a vast majority of the country agree with Obama's policy on this one. And McCain's been all over the map on this anyway, for it before he was against it.
Would pull troops out of Iraq immediately
No, neither would pull out "immediately". Obama would pull out "as soon as safely possible", and there are a LOT of people in the Pentagon who agree with him. McCain? His stated policy seems to be to stay there forever.
And nothing pisses me off more than anyone who says that anyone who wants to pull out of Iraq wants to lose the war. Quoting Thomas Barnett here: "Stop calling it a war. The war is over. We won the war. We did it in six weeks with 121 combat casualties. We did it so fast that we were not prepared for their collapse." We won the war, and we've been occupying the country ever since with just enough troops to keep the lid on sectarian violence but not enough to build lasting stability. It's an occupation and so far the only people who seem unambiguously happy about it are the Iranian government.
Poll after poll shows that about two thirds of Americans want us out of Iraq. Even the Bush administration is now talking about timetables for withdrawal, and McCain seems like the only one who isn't. More importantly, I believe that Obama would not have invaded Iraq in the first place.
(Oh, and I'd just like to remind you that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian. How come we never invaded THOSE guys? I mean, you never even hear us get mad at them! Oh that's right, they have all the oil, so we can't piss them off...)
Supports gun ownership rights
I think this is a bit of an oversimplification. To quote Obama directly: "The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals."
I'm not opposed to guns. I LIKE guns. I have fond memories of firing your "varmint rifle" on your farm, and I've handled guns on and off throughout my life. But I don't think there should be less paperwork to buy an assault rifle than there is to renew my driver's license. And to those libertarians who think a gun will keep the Government out of your face, bear in mind that the Bush Republicans obsoleted the Fourth Amendment right against warrantless searches (several times), and there wasn't a shot fired.
Supports homosexual marriage
Great! I support homosexual marriage too. Mainly because I have gay friends in committed relationships and I'd like them to be able to get health insurance together. That's about it. No one has ever been able to coherently explain to me how any of this has any effect on traditional marriage whatsoever.
Proposed programs will mean a huge tax increase
Come on, have you LOOKED at the Federal Budget lately? Under Bush, government spending has INCREASED WILDLY, way more than the Clinton years. And with his "radical tax cut" policy, we paid for that by BORROWING the money. Mostly from the Chinese. Who are laughing their asses off, because they now own a hell of a lot of leverage on us, and if they decide we need to pay it back we are well and truly f*cked, my friends.
Look at this chart. The red bars are taxes (yes, Clinton raised taxes... mostly on the rich, and the economy boomed). But the blue line is federal spending: steadily LOWER through the Clinton years and shooting UP during the Bush years. And that figure doesn't even include the Iraq War! Think of the children, indeed... they'll be paying off this turd for decades.
CAPITAL GAINS TAXES
As for the tax breakdowns below, sorry pal, you've been hoodwinked again. Go to a reputable site and check out all of the facts. This election is too damn important to trust a randomly forwarded chain email.
http://www.factcheck.org/... details a point by point rebuttal of THIS EXACT EMAIL. Those last few taxes at the end are COMPLETELY made up. If you want to see the REAL tax plan, here's a detailed breakdown from CNN Money:
Bottom line: If you make less that $600,000 a year, you'll fare better under Obama's plan. I don't know about you, but I'm just a liiiiiitle bit under the $600K mark...
So how can Obama lower taxes on so many people and pay for the stuff he's planning? Well, it turns out that the Bush tax cuts he wants to roll back were so completely off-the-charts insane for the top bracket that simply reverting them to their 1999 levels balances the books. We tend not to hear much about this because the tiny percentage of Americans in that top bracket tend to include the people who own all the television networks and newpapers. The "liberal media" is a myth; we have a Corporate Media.
As for capital gains, it seems like no one will be making any taxable profit on the sale of their homes thanks to the huge real estate bust brought on in large part due to Republican deregulation. (Seriously though, see the links above for the real cap gains info.)
Finally, re: "If you have any love for your country and your children's future, please think long and hard before you vote in November."
I have done so. Nay, I have OBSESSED.
I have ingested unhealthy amounts of facts, figures, ads, political analyses, chain emails (hello!), talk radio and a Metric Crapload of blog posts ranging from "Basket Weaving for Peace" to "Kill 'em All And Let God Sort 'em Out". I have had strong feelings and been open to opposing viewpoints. I have passionately argued with neighbors, friends and co-workers.
And I will vote enthusiastically and without hesitation for Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Nov 4, because I UNAMBIGUOUSLY feel that it will mean a better future for me, and mine, and my country.
I'll leave you with the wisdom of one of my favorite bloggers :
"I'm not voting for Obama because I actually believe that he's going to wave his magical 'change' wand and suddenly make all the ugliness of the past seven years go away. I'm voting for him because, after some careful consideration, I concluded that he is the least likely of all the major presidential candidates to do something horrifically shitty while in office. Yes, friends, I am that cynical."
Good to hear from you! It always makes me smile to get cranky email from you. Deb and I miss you both.
Your dirty hippie commie pinko anarchist East Coast big-city elitist tree-hugger librarian nephew,
PS: I am not really a commie.