Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_styles() expected to be a reference, value given in /homepages/16/d202020116/htdocs/worldwide/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 601

Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_scripts() expected to be a reference, value given in /homepages/16/d202020116/htdocs/worldwide/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 601
Worldwide Ace » Elective Surgery

Worldwide Ace

Because a true Ace is needed everywhere…

Entries Comments


Elective Surgery

8 October, 2008 (05:30) | Politics

It’s 5 AM in Prague and I’m crouched in a stairwell. The second presidential debate just ended on CNN Europe and I kept running tabs of the whole thing. I’ll post the entirety of my notes below, but you’re better off just getting transcript if you’re interested.

Matt’s disappointed. He thinks Obama bombed. Matt is impressed by stats and numbers and McCain did well at citing many of them on his tax plan. Obama, meanwhile offered up more generalized answers. Of course, he also answered the majority of questions.

I, on the other hand, feel that Obama came out on top. His answers, while not fantastic, were clear, enumerated, and dealt with the issues. He certainly had his share of talking points (alternative energy, off-shore drilling, 300 Billion in tax cuts to corporations by McCain), but they paled in comparison to the key word, name-dropping answers that McCain gave.

We’re in the midst of that sad phase of politics in which the candidates run to the center. Of course, everyone’s been saying McCain is just another Bush, but even his stances have shifted from the maverick ones that gained him his name to centrist republican policies for the most part. Matt pointed out that Obama has adopted Hillary’s centrist stance on Iraq, arguing for pulling out at the right time where he once advocated immediate withdrawal, so it’s not as though it’s not happening on both sides.

That would make me sad if it weren’t the way things worked. In the primaries, candidates run to the wings, trying to grab their party with liberal or conservative rhetoric respectively. During the main election, they run back to the middle, trying to grab all the voters who felt alienated by their more extremist views. This often leaves me unable to tell what any given candidate stands for by the time the election rolls around.

The bank panic we’re currently experiencing combined with the incredible unpopularity of Bush means the only thing certain now is that both candidates are running as far away from the current administration as fast as they can. McCain accused Obama of supporting Bush’s bills and Obama accused McCain of supporting the Bush regime.

I was actually surprised by the amount of mud-slinging and name-calling, from McCain’s constant use of the word cronyism (a political issue not seen since O Brother, Where Art Thou?) to Obama’s repeated accusation that McCain’s in bed with Bush. They attacked each other’s plans, McCain claiming Obama will fine small businesses and working parents (an accusation he denied) and Obama claiming McCain will give 300 Billion dollars in tax cuts to corporations (an accusation he ignored).

Overall, it was an unfortunate sight. Obama said early on, “You’re not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers.” To me, this felt like a call to deal with issues and ignore the partisanship and mud-slinging, but one answer later any hope of that was gone.

In the end, I do think Obama came out on top by a slim margin. He may not have given great answers, but he made a couple of solid points, showed a lot of respect for his audience by actually attempting to address some of the harder issues, and laying out the importance of the tasks at hand when asked. McCain, meanwhile did extremely well when he actually address the issue, especially on domestic issues, but still avoided the questions most of the time. Both sides came off as childish and defensive at times.

After seeing Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, speak today, I was struck by how confident I was in his abilities despite the negative outlook he gave. Ten minutes later Bush spoke quite positively and left me worried and unsure about our future. Both McCain and Obama are better choices for president than Bush, but neither one is instilling a lot of confidence in me. If the US still exists at the end of the month when I return, I can only hope the election will bring a leader who can save it, cause I certainly have my doubts about its viability.

I didn’t get started on my notes until midway through the first question and slowly shifted into good form midway through the 3rd. Early on, I was much more the liberal mouth I am during an argument, but the observations stand.

McCain’s talking points.
Attacks instead of answers.

The second question is what does it mean and yet both candidates are dealing with why they tried to do something and nothing happened.
“You’re not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers.” Obama’s right.
Brokaw asks the smart question.
Obama outlays general plan for more oversight and a change in culture.
McCain hits his talking points: buy those bad loans! Destroy cronyism in Washington!
1 attack on Obama, 1 compliment to Americans, 1 call to power.
Obama accepts blame and then immediately lays blame on Bush. The deficit is bigger. McCain voted for it.
Healthcare, energy, college affordability, spending cuts, good programs versus bads.
McCain says Washington is broken and he’s a reformer. He’s taken on specil interests.
Sites Fiengold, Lieberman, bipartisanship.
Attacks Obama, brings up records. He’s fought against big spending.
O is voting for big spending. O voted for more spending. O voted for earmarks (planetarium projector).
M has plan for reforms. “Get Middle Americans working again.”
Energy Independence – drilling off-shore. “Stop sending 700B overseas.”

Highest priority? Healthcare, Energy, Social Security/Medicare
M can work on all 3 at once. We can’t give same benefit as today. “I have a clear record of reaching across the aisle.”
Nuclear powerplants = new jobs. New power is possible. 700B is in the hands of terrorists!?!?
We have to do them all at once. They’re national security issues?
Obama says prioritize: Energy is first. Bad for personal budget and national security. Iraq is benefitting.
15 B over 10 years Energy Independence from Mid-East Oil.
Healthcare is two. Makes business less effective.
Education is three.
Records. Earmarks. Wants to go line by line (quote) and eliminate programs that don’t work.
McCain’s 300B tax cut (continuation of Bush) give to big companies.
Make sure cuts working for the common man.

1st Net Question: What sacrifices will you ask for?
M says programs. Reexamining agencies and bureaucracies: defense spending, defense contracts (submarine)
Earmarks (overhead projector). Some good programs will need to go.
Spending freeze: except for defense, veterans affairs and a few other programs.
Full transparencies. “Earmarks”
Back to multitasking. Work together. People without health insurance shouldn’t need to wait.
O quotes 9/11. We came together and worked together. Bush did some smart things at the beginning.
He said “go out and shop.” That was an opportunity missed.
America needs to deal with these issues in and out of government.
Energy: increased oil production, off-shore drilling. clean-coal tech.
Personal responsibility. fuel efficiency in America. Educational programs that will help people learn how to save energy on a personal level.
Help people beyond the military deal with these problems.
Discussion:
O: Washington needs to set an example. We can’t run up debts. “Earmarks” 18B of our budget. McCain’s tax cuts = 700K for CEOs that’s not sharing the burden. We must all share the burden.
Everyone needs to make sacrifices. McCain uses a hatchet, I use a scalpel.
M: Jello to the wall (Obama’s cuts are elusive and false). Compares O to Hoover.
700K jobs gone. 300K small business jobs created (silver lining).
O’s tax increases will raise taxes on small business.
M is not in favor of raising tax rates. Cuts tax exemption for children. Builds windows for middle class. No raising taxes.

2nd Net Question: A date certain to fix Medicare and Social Security?
O: Entitlements. Can’t guarantee two years. We can;t fix those until we understand the rest of the tax laws.
“I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of Americans. If you make less than 1/4 million dollars a year, you will not see your taxes go up. If you make 200K or less, you will see them go down.”
Majority of small business will see them go down. 50% tax bonus. (McCain smiling).
300B to big business, 100B to CEO from McCain.
Get the tax policies right for the middle class. If, then we can deal with Medicare and Social Security.
M: It’s not hard to fix Social Security. It’s been done before. (Reagan and Tipp O’Neil)
Obama hasn’t taken on his party. I have.
Medicare is tougher. It’s complex. Have a commission. Come up with suggestions. Too many lobbyists.
O has voted 94 tims to raise taxes or against tax cuts. He never once fought to cuts taxes.
Look at the records. “Our best days are ahead of us.”

How will you make sure congress moves fast in relation to environment and ?
M: Big issue, children and grandchildren. I disagreed with Bush. I traveled. Kept discussion open.
Nuclear Power. Safe, clean. Military subs.
Obama is into “clean energy.” It’s not enough. (missed a bunch, thanks Matt)
We are the best producers.
O: It’s a challenge and opportunity. New energy economy can create jobs.
We need to invest. Computer allegory. This is a national security energy.
We need to invest in Nuclear power as one component. We need to look at the rest.
For 30 years, congress has done nothing. He’s been there 26 years. Voted 23 times against alt fuels.
We have 3% of oil reserves and use 20% of oil. Can’t drill our way out. Can’t fix it with fossil fuels.
We need alternatives. We can sell innovation
M: Fund it governmentally and turn it over to the private sector.
Bush made bad bill, Obama voted for it, McCain voted against.
I vote against the bad bills.
Oil drilling is a way to bridge the gap. “National Security issue.”
Supply and demand. We have to drill off shore.
Nuclear power: Obama has voted for storage of nuclear fuel.

Healthcare a commodity?
O: Big issue. Breaking budgets. Premiums doubled. Copayments/deductables go up. Small business can’t handle it.
Moral commitment and economic imperative.
If you have it, keep it if you want. We will work to lower your premiums. Invest in prevention and IT.
If you don’t have it, you can get federal insurance with senators and congressman.
McCain says tax credit. Tax those credits at the same time. Block States from helping with mamograms and maternity.
US Chamber of Commerce says that plan will cause health care to unravel.
M: Costs and copayments go up. We need to do everything necessary. Health records online, community health centers, walk-in clinics, impose efficiencies.
Differences between us: Government. Mandates.
Obama will fine small business; will fine working parents if they can’t provide coverage.
5K$ tax credit (refundable) good across state lines.
Do the math: 95% will have increased funds for insurance and to shop around.
Everyone will be covered except for high priced cosmetic surgery like hair transplants.
Small business and working parents want insurance, 5K credit is a start.
Discussion: Privilege, right or responsibility?
M: It’s a responsibility. Gov mandates make me nervous, but it’s my responsibility. It’s small business responsibility.
Nervous by Obama. He’s never mentioned how much his fine is.
O: Even the bankrupt should be covered. Mom died of cancer at 53.
Keep the good plans, lowered premiums.
Small businesses won’t have mandate, but 50% tax credit.
Children should have coverage (cheap and easy).
McCain voted against child health care bill.
Gov should crack down on insurance companies, make sure they’re not lying.
If we go state by state, they’ll go where it’s best for them. Everyone will be in Arizona.
No protection for the public.
McCain wants deregulation.

On the Military
M: Strong military needs strong economy. “America is the greatest force for good in the history of the world.”
Peacemakers and peacekeepers. Is military worth bloodshed? Preventing genocide and spread of terrorism proves yes.
We are a nation of good. My record and my judgment can stand by.
Obama was wrong about Iraq; wrong about Georgia. We don’t have time for on the job training, my friend.
O: I don’t understand some things. Iraq versus Al Queda. That was McCain’s judgment.
McCain is a Bush cheerleader. Iraq has put an enormous strain on the troops. Rah Rah troops. and on our budget.
700B dollars in Iraq. Keep going and it’ll rise about 1 trillion.
Iraq has 79 billion surplus. We need our 10B a month.
This is the greatest nation, we are a force of good.
This problem is impressive. We no longer have the resources or the allies to prevent a genocide anymore.
We need to change at the base.
Discussion: Non-national security issues – Rwanda and Congo
O: Moral obligation. If we have the ability, we need to act.
If we stand idlely by, it diminishes us.
It must be part of our interests if it’s possible to help.
We can’t be everywhere, so we need to work with our allies.
Darfur – peace-keeping force is there. We can do a lot, but only if they supply the troops.
M: If we set a date for withdrawal from Iraq, terrorism would’ve won. Obama would’ve declared defeat.
I will bring them home with victory and with honor.
We must do whatever we can, but tempered with our ability to indirectly affect.
We don’t have the capabilities always. Somalia – peacekeepers ended up peacemakers and we failed.
Troops security is top priority… after nation’s security.
We have to say never again, but we need to make sure we don’t EXACERBATE the issue.

Pakistani Sovereignty and Al Queda cells
O: Difficult situation because we made a bad judgment in going into Iraq before Al Queda was dealt with.
If we had taken care of them, they wouldn’t be there. They’re raiding Afghanistan.
We need to reverse course and aim for Al Queda.
The war against terrorism began there and will end there.
Get out of Iraq, put pressure on Afghan, deal with drugs there.
But we must deal with Pakistan. Encourage democracy, expand non-mil aid, insist they deal with Al Queda.
If we have Bin Ladin in our sites, we will act. Biggest Nat Seciruty priority,
M: My hero is Teddy Roosevelt. Obama wants to announce he will attack Pakistan.
If we want support, we need to get them on our side. We can’t announce an attack.
We drove the Russians (Afghan Freedom fighters) out of Afghanistan. Then Al Queda came back.
Get the support of the people. We need to help the Pakistani people.
Coordinate our efforts. Use force with care. “Talk softly and carry a big stick.”
O: If Pakistan is unable or unwilling, we will.
McCain says I want to invade. He called for annihilation of Korea, bomb Iran. Called for attack on Baghdad before Afghanistan was done.
We lost the people of Pakistan because we supported Musharaf’s dictatorship.
M: Not true. I supported the efforts the US needed to do and opposed those it didn’t.
“I was joking with a veteran.” I know how to handle these crisis.
Obama wants to attack Pakistan. I know how to get Bin Laden, but I won’t telegraph my punches.
–Afghanistan? How do you reorganize?
O: Make the Iraqi gov take more responsibility for themselves so we can move troops.
We need more help there. We’re targets. We’ll need to work with the Afghan gov.
M: It’s the same overall strategy. We need to double the size of the army, work close with Pakistan.
We need to keep the same strategy. Obama wants to change and won’t admit he’s wrong.
I have confidence in our current plan. (“Stay the course?”)

Pressure on Russia?
M: We won’t have another cold war. Their behavior is outside the norm.
I warned people about Putin. (KGB?!?) Suppressed liberties. Been aggressive.
Ukraine is in his sights. Wants to rebuild the USSR.
We have to make them understand there are penalties for aggression.
We need to bring international pressures (NATO, G8).
They must understand this is not acceptable.
Use leverage: economic, diplomatic, and others.
Not the cold war.
O: I agree with McCain on much of this.
Moral support is not enough. We need to support Soviet Satellites too.
We need to assist them: financially and economic.
Anticipate. April, I said the situation was unsustainable/unstable.
We haven’t anticipative. We’ve been reactive.
We rushed into Iraq, McCain, Bush, cost us.
We must be more strategic.
Energy is key. Reduce energy consumption, reduce Russia’s money.
D: Russia is evil Empire? Yes or no.
O: not the same, but similar.
M: Maybe. Depends on how we respond. It’s not yes or no.
Energy is big factor. It’s in our interest to protect Georgia and Ukraine as gateways of energy.

Israeli war? Support them or UN Security approval?
M: We would not wait for UN approval. Russia and China would be opstacles.
Iran is a threat to the Mid-East. If Iran gets nukes, they all will.
We need to put pressure on Iranians with sanctions.
Join with allies. Should discourage them.
At the end of the day, we can never allow a second holocaust.
O: We can’t let them get nukes. Threat to Israel and boon to terrorism.
I will do everything to prevent. Military actions will always be an option.
We can’t let the UN delay us. We need to prevent it if possible.
If we can work more effectively diplomatically, reduce energy reliance to lower money, we can change their options.
We should have the right to deliver a message. It may not work, but that approach is a better outcome.
Bush didn’t talk and it didn’t work.

Net Q3: What don’t you know and how will you learn it?
O: The nature of the challenges are immense. It’s never the challenges that you expect.
I wouldn’t be standing here with opportunity. Single mom, grandparents and scholarships gave me chances.
Despite all that, I went to best schools and succeed. Can we pass on this dream?
The dream diminished. We need fundamental change.
A new direction.
M: I don’t know what will happen. Challenges are unprecedented. Americans are hurting.
New countries will rise. I served. single parent family (father gone), I know what it’s like to fight.
I know support. I beleive in the greatness of this country.
I’ve always put my country first.

«

  »

  • Anonymous

    You note “McCain hits his talking points: buy those bad loans! Destroy cronyism in Washington!” but, like most commentators, you miss the big thing that McCain put on the table:

    “And I think that this problem has become so severe, as you know, that we’re going to have to do something about home values. You know that home values of retirees continues to decline and people are no longer able to afford their mortgage payments. As president of the United States, Alan, I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes — at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those — be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.
    Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we’re never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy.”

    This is new stuff. Admittedly, the “ball-out bill” allows Treasury to do this, but so far all the discussion has been about buying failed assets at a higher level in the financial food chain.

    McCain’s words are a little screwed up. His mention of retirees is gratuitous — the problem affects a lot of people, retired or not. And the “home value” thing is only a second-order effect of the mortgage problem. Unless someone is forced to sell their home — for example, they have to move because of a job transfer — it doesn’t really matter what their home is worth so long as the they can meet their monthly payments. And most people were doing this just fine at their loan’s initial “teaser rate” until their monthly mortgage payment adjusted upwards — often by two or three times the original payment. And then, they had no alternative than to default. The usual solution would havde been to find a new loan at a lower rate or sell the house at an appreciated value, pay off the loan, and take the rest of the sales proceeds to buy a new home. But most of these folks cannot find a new loan — and there is no market for their house at a price sufficient to pay off their existing loan and have any money left for a down-payment on a less expensive home. And the more homes that are foreclosed and put on the market at distressed prices, the lower home values become and the entire situation spirals downward.

    So, McCain is correct in his focus on finding a way to help people “make those payments and stay in their homes.” But the solution is to focus on the payment issue and not on the home value issue. Focusing on home values is how we got into this mess.

    In my opinion, if you fix the problems at the bottom (home loans), it will go a long way to stabilizing the entire system including all the various financial derivatives which are built upon those loans. Of course, some of the derivatives being held by large institutions have to be addressed immediately so that those institutions can get back into the business of providing the commercial credit necessary for businesses to operate, but that is only part of the problem facing our economy.

    I give McCain some points for saying what he said even if his economic understanding is not the sharpest. Hopefully, Obama and other politicians will pick up on this and it will become a bi-partisan cornerstone of the “bail-out” strategy.

  • You note “McCain hits his talking points: buy those bad loans! Destroy cronyism in Washington!” but, like most commentators, you miss the big thing that McCain put on the table:

    “And I think that this problem has become so severe, as you know, that we’re going to have to do something about home values. You know that home values of retirees continues to decline and people are no longer able to afford their mortgage payments. As president of the United States, Alan, I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes — at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those — be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.
    Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we’re never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy.”

    This is new stuff. Admittedly, the “ball-out bill” allows Treasury to do this, but so far all the discussion has been about buying failed assets at a higher level in the financial food chain.

    McCain’s words are a little screwed up. His mention of retirees is gratuitous — the problem affects a lot of people, retired or not. And the “home value” thing is only a second-order effect of the mortgage problem. Unless someone is forced to sell their home — for example, they have to move because of a job transfer — it doesn’t really matter what their home is worth so long as the they can meet their monthly payments. And most people were doing this just fine at their loan’s initial “teaser rate” until their monthly mortgage payment adjusted upwards — often by two or three times the original payment. And then, they had no alternative than to default. The usual solution would havde been to find a new loan at a lower rate or sell the house at an appreciated value, pay off the loan, and take the rest of the sales proceeds to buy a new home. But most of these folks cannot find a new loan — and there is no market for their house at a price sufficient to pay off their existing loan and have any money left for a down-payment on a less expensive home. And the more homes that are foreclosed and put on the market at distressed prices, the lower home values become and the entire situation spirals downward.

    So, McCain is correct in his focus on finding a way to help people “make those payments and stay in their homes.” But the solution is to focus on the payment issue and not on the home value issue. Focusing on home values is how we got into this mess.

    In my opinion, if you fix the problems at the bottom (home loans), it will go a long way to stabilizing the entire system including all the various financial derivatives which are built upon those loans. Of course, some of the derivatives being held by large institutions have to be addressed immediately so that those institutions can get back into the business of providing the commercial credit necessary for businesses to operate, but that is only part of the problem facing our economy.

    I give McCain some points for saying what he said even if his economic understanding is not the sharpest. Hopefully, Obama and other politicians will pick up on this and it will become a bi-partisan cornerstone of the “bail-out” strategy.

  • Anonymous

    It’s true that that was new and, now that you’ve explained it, an insightful point. But it still felt like a keyword talking point. I’m sure McCain understands what he was saying, but I think if he explained it rather than just spouting it, it would offer more confidence.

  • It’s true that that was new and, now that you’ve explained it, an insightful point. But it still felt like a keyword talking point. I’m sure McCain understands what he was saying, but I think if he explained it rather than just spouting it, it would offer more confidence.