Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Republicans calling the kettle black on Democratic control

The Rovebaughlicans are complaining that we need to have a Republican president to offset a Democratic Congress. This is a bit hypocritical. In 2000 and 2004 Newt Gingrich and others were looking for a permanent Republican majority in Congress along with a Republican president appointing Supreme Court judges.

Millionaires' crocodile tears for the middle class

Obama, Biden, McCain, and Palin are trying to out-shout their opposition in how much they are working for the middle class. Give me a break, all four of them are millionaires.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Candidates are not apples and oranges

Comparing candidates is not like comparing apples and oranges. There are distinct differences in candidates' styles, history, knowledge, and skills. Candidates strengths and weaknesses are not a product of their politically parties.

I'm led to these thoughts by newspaper comparisons of the 2004 and the 2008 elections, generally about how various areas of the country went for Bush or for Kerry in 2004. Party affiliation is the wrong measure of future success.

In the 2004 debates, George Bush often came across as folksy and engaged with his audience. John Kerry was often wooden and detached. He also was a bit self-centered. I groaned each time he said, "In my plan" or "I have a plan..."

In 2008, John McCain is exciting people with narrow interests that they perceive he supports, but Barack Obama is exciting people with a larger vision of what our problems are and of where we should be headed.

One might say both the 2004 and the 2008 elections hinged on vision versus me-first.

I lately lost a preposition

I have tried to remember this little poem for quite some time. Today I did a search for it and found several copies.
I lately lost a preposition

It hid, I thought, beneath my chair

And angrily I cried: perdition

up from out in under there!

Correctness is my vademecum

Straggling phrases I abhor

Still I wonder what should it come

Up from out in under for?
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/laszlo_gabris/FUNPOEM1.htm and others.

See also Language Log_ Churchill vs. editorial nonsense.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The fleeing elite

Republican partisans apparently have used the word "elite" to describe those who disagree with them too many times. Now the Republican-leaning elite are distancing themselves from the McCain-Palin candidacy:

David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and now Christopher Buckley and Colin Powell. Now if some prominent politicians would do the same. Maybe we will get a strong, new moderate party.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Will McCain's health proposal cost most people less?

I find it hard to believe that McCain's health proposal will cost most people less. McCain is proposing to discourage employer-sponsored health insurance in favor of individually purchased insurance

Employer-sponsored health care is group health insurance. True, this could be more expensive for the young and healthy. Until they are married and have kids. Group health insurance is a better deal for people who are not so healthy. People who have some health issues in their family are going to pay a lot more for individual health insurance.

Group health insurance can be cheaper than individual health insurance because of sales costs. If you get health insurance online these costs may be very low. However, if you get health insurance from an agent, that agent may get a cut of your premium for as long as you hold your policy. This is also called a performance award; the more policies an agent sells the bigger his or her award.

(We should pay teachers the same; as long as their students are getting an income, the teachers should get a cut of the students' income taxes.)

McCain's five-thousand dollar tax credit is a joke. My wife and I are paying $6,941.40 per year for Medicare B, Medicare Drug Plan, and supplemental insurance. What would a family of four or five with known health issues pay?

Health savings accounts are also a joke. A single night in a hospital now costs $1,000, each time a doctor sees you in the hospital could be $200 or $300. How many people are going to have that much money in their health savings accounts?

There is already a tax deduction for all health expenses over a small percentage of income. Why not make it a tax credit?

If you would like to read more about both candidates' health plans, see "Health Care Spin" at factcheck.org.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who on Wall St. is contributing to Obama's campaign?

Several critics have questioned the sources of contributions to Barack Obama's campaign, one of these criticisms being that many contributions are coming from Wall St. firms.

Contributors to political campaigns are required to give the names of their employers and their occupations. Is anybody breaking down these contributions from Wall St. firms into those from executives and those from others, say janitors, clerks, accountants, and brokers. Consider the following:
More generally, this year's registration tilt is part of a broader shift since 2004 away from Republican affiliation, particularly among younger and Hispanic voters and among college-educated professionals in former GOP strongholds such as New Hampshire, Colorado, and the suburbs of Philadelphia and Northern Virginia.

- "Registration gains favor democrats", Washington Post, 2008-10-06
Could it be that many of the donations from Wall St. are from these young professionals? Could it be that the sum of their donations to Obama exceeds that of their executive bosses?

Monday, October 13, 2008

High hopes for my to-do list

I find myself trying to do more and more in less and less time. Soon I'll be doing everything at once.

Rovebaughlicans have sowed the wind

...and now they are reaping the whirlwind.

They have sowed untruths and now have to contain the anger of their base. John McCain, normally a nice guy, has fallen among thieves of truth and acted like them. Now McCain has to quiet rowdy crowds who are saying things that would get them arrested at other events.

The Republicans have been taken over by mob rule and the Democrats are under siege by the Dreamocrats.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Choose your gospel wisely; times change

Adam Smith wrote about prosperity in his time, and now some have taken his writings as gospel for all times. Karl Marx wrote about poverty in his time, and some took his writings as gospel for all times.

Adam Smith wrote about many small businesses competing for customers, and then came conglomerates that were near monopolies. Karl Mark wrote about the conglomerates exploiting workers, and then came unions to bring prosperity to many workers in the conglomerates.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Are we getting closer to a viable third party?

In the mid nineteenth century, one of the two major parties became more irrelevant to the real problems of the era, namely the question of slavery. They, the Whigs, were tepid on abolition, and were replaced by a new, vigorous party, the Republicans. In the 1856 presidential election, the Republican candidate, John C. Fremont came in second in a three-way race. Former President Millard Fillmore, now in another "third party", the American Party or Know Nothing's, came in a respectable third. Four years later the Republican candidate won and the rest is history.

In the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century, the Republicans became more and more ideological. Rather than work with some general principles to work out compromises to govern, many Republicans became naysayers. See "The Audacity of Nope", Eva Fairbanks, Washington Post, 2008-10-05.

Ms. Fairbanks, a congressional correspondent, describes herself as a "card-carrying moderate 'weenie'" and is not happy about the shift to ideology.

As the Republican Party sidelines more and more moderates in favor of die-hard ideologues, will it become less relevant and only be an irritant to the Democrats. What will happen with the sidelined moderates? Will enough of them get together to form a viable third party?

We have some inkling in Minnesota that this is possible. Dean Barkley, the Independence Party candidate for the Senate, is closing in on 20% according to some polls. I don't know how many former Republicans are migrating to the IP, but if any momentum gathers, a third party could be an active participant in the 2012 elections, and by 2020, the current Republican Party may be a minor party.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Who has the right "experience"?

John McCain keeps hammering away that he has foreign policy experience and that Barack Obama is inexperienced. McCain claims that Obama is willing to meet Iranian President Ahmadinejad "without preconditions". Obama responds that "Ahmadinejad is not the most important man in Iran and may not even be the right person to talk to."
- Duluth News Tribune, 2008-10-03

Notice Obama's use of "may not". I'd rather have someone who is ready to adapt his foreign policy to others' reactions than someone who sings "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

Unbalanced "balanced" reporting

We were only able to watch the Biden-Palin debate for about a half-hour. After about the third time that Gov. Palin refused to answer a question and went on to something else, we turned the TV off and went to do other things.

I was amazed later in the evening to find hardly any mention of this in online commentary. I was still amazed when the Duluth News Tribune gave both fairly good marks for their performance. It was only when I got to the very end of an article about UMD students watching the debate did I find this:

“She keeps changing the subject, cutting off the issue, like she’s trying to hide something or doesn’t have an answer,’’ [Josh] Clarke said. “She just shows a lack of experience, kind of naive.’’
- Duluth News Tribune, 2008-10-03

Fortunately, similar comments are appearing today. And surprise, more of it is coming from so-called conservative or centrist commentators. So-called liberals seem to be afraid of any criticism of Palin; that would make them part of the "biased media."

I'm sorry, but if most people understand there is a problem, and one candidate states there is no problem and another states we must address this problem with thoughtfulness; shouldn't we be more critical of the first?