The Eclectic Quill

September 4, 2009

Taking Repbulicans Back to School

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 8:36 pm

First a history lesson.

What was George W. Bush doing on 9/11?

Indoctrinating children.

Now for a civics lesson.

Fascism is the opposite of  Socialism.

There’s your lessons for today. It helps to stay in school and study hard. Then you don’t need to be taught these things when you are a parent.


November 4, 2008

Watch the Election Results on the Quill

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 5:05 pm

I’ll be hosting a live blog monitoring the election throughout the evening. Feel free to post any comments and bring in the next President with me.


5:13 PM—The first polls have closed but we haven’t heard any actual counts yet. CNN is reporting that according to their exit polling the #1 issue on voters mind is the economy. Big surprise there, but it bodes well for Obama.

5:21 PM—The first results from Kentucky are trickling in and McCain is ahead, but it’s just a trickle. Kentucky isn’t really anything remotely expected to be for Obama anyway. More interesting is waiting to see the Indiana Results start to come in.

5:31 PM—CNN is reporting that according to their exit polling 70 percent of voters think that Obama will raise their taxes, which means that the McCain lie got through. What’s interesting though is that it didn’t seem to matter.

5:33 PM—The first results for Indiana are coming in and Obama is ahead 55-44, I’m pretty sure that’s going to change and get much tighter. It’ll be interesting.

5:37 PM—More votes from Indiana trickle in and its 50-49 Obama , and it’ll probably hang around there all evening. Indiana won’t be a quick call tonight.

5:40 PM—ABC News is reporting that only 13 percent of the vote was African-American, perhaps not the number that Obama was hoping for. What’s interesting is that the highest black turnout may be in Pennsylvania, and it is as a direct result of the Jeremiah Wright ad put out by the RNC in that state.

5:46 PM—Indiana results continue to come in. With 2 percent in he still has about a 700 vote lead, and is up 50-49 percent. If Obama wins Indiana this is so over. I should point out that those precincts that are coming in now aren’t the urban areas where Obama is expected to do better.

5:52 PM—On Kentucky, I’m looking for the Senate Race with Lunsford because that would bode well for a filibuster proof Senate.

5:55 PM—On MSNBC they are reporting that the Republicans are essentially conceding the Dole will lose. If Hagin and Lunsford win their Senate seats, then Franken (MN) and Beich (AK) can give us the 60 we need in the Senate.

5:59 PM—McCain has pulled slightly ahead in IN by about 350 votes, still no urban areas reporting yet though. I think Obama might actually have a shot there.

6:00 PM—CNN is projecting Kentucky for McCain and Vermont for Obama. Indiana is too close to call. South Carolina is too close to call early, which is pretty fascinating. A lot of red states are too close to call.

6:03 PM—Warner wins the open Virginia seat, which is a pickup for the Dems in the Senate, so now we’re officially 52-48.

6:10 PM—Still waiting for some results on the 6:00 PM closings, but Indiana continues to trickle in and Obama holds steady. Still no urban precincts reporting though.

6:13 PM—Obama is back in the lead in Indiana, up by about 4000 votes.

6:23 PM—I’m trying to not go into a panic as McCain is taking an early 53-47 lead in the overall numbers. Then I stop and look and realize that it’s that close, it’s early, and all the reporting precincts were Bush states in ’00 and ’04.

6:25 PM—McCain is pulling away a bit in Indiana, but again, it’s almost all rural vote.

6:30 PM—Obama is taking a big lead in Florida (40,000 votes), but I’m not sure about the precincts.

6:33 PM—The first North Carolina votes are coming in and Obama has an early lead there.

6:35 PM—The national numbers are starting to favor Obama, whose up by 40,000 votes overall now.

6:57 PM—McCain is getting projected to win South Carolina. That was once again, expected. Obama is doing very well in Florida, but again, I don’t know the map well enough to speculate on the precincts.

7:00 PM—Eight new projections, MA, MN, IL, DE, MD, VT and CN and DC for Obama and OK and TN for McCain. The EV count is now 81-34 Obama. CBS is giving NH to Obama and W. VA to McCain.

7:06 PM—ABC is projecting PA for Obama. That gives Obama 100 EV, and pretty much, the election.

7:08 PM— is running a real time, actual vote map. It’s pretty interesting.

7:11 PM—North Carolina and Indiana both continue to look realistic for Obama. If he picks up one or both you can all but call the election. If he wins Florida it’s going to be a landslide.

7:13 PM—WOW!!! What difference between the McCain and Obama camps in terms of their election night parties! In Chicago it’s way beyond enthusiastic, and in Arizona they’re practically singing a dirge—literally!

7:31 PM—We have a big win for the Dems as Hagan wins North Carolina! Woohoo!

8:00 PM—Another bout of closings, McCain gets KS, WY and ND, Obama gets NY, MI, MN, WI, RI. A lot of other too close/too early to calls.

8:26 PM—Obama wins OH. Now he only needs to keep the Kerry states and wins. It’s over. If he wins CA, OR, WA and HW, which he will, Obama wins the election.     

8:35 PM—Obama gets NM. Yep. It’s over.

8:37 PM—Obama closes in on Virginia cutting the lead to 7000 votes.

8:41 PM—CNN reports no Republican since Lincoln has won without Ohio.

9:01 PM—Sorry to anyone who is reading, which isn’t much from what I can tell, but I’ve gotten to caught up to blog. Congratulations to President Barack Obama.

November 3, 2008

Maddow on the Poll Tax

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 4:11 pm

Maddow brings up an interesting question, and I’d like to get some of your thoughts on it. I hope this blog entry turns into a conversation by many, rather than a rant by me (unlike most of my other blogs). What do you think, should Election Day be a National Holiday?

<— Don’t forget to vote in the Poll!

The Axis of Liberals

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 4:01 pm

The new mantra of the Republican Party has been that America should vote for John McCain to avoid the trio of Pelosi, Reid and Obama running the show. They may be wondering why the strategy isn’t having its intended effect. I can’t blame them, it’s worked in the past. It’s always the same with them, try to scare you about the liberal running, and then you’ll make the "safe" choice, the Republican. There’s a big reason it doesn’t work anymore. They found out that whatever is going to happen if there’s liberals running the world, it can’t possibly be as bad as when the conservatives were doing it. But there the Republicans go, prattling on about how the "liberals" are going to ruin America and how the American people are going to suffer and so on. Incredibly, their campaign strategy has turned into "Don’t vote for Obama or you’ll get what you want!"

I was watching Joe Scarborough, (don’t ask me why) and he was telling us how America is still a "center-right" country. I read the same thing in column, (I believe form the Wall Street Journal but I’m not really feeling like looking it up). I love that, center-right, as though somehow that expression means something. It’s all relative. If Obama took the exact same platform to Europe he would be far right, but here he’s getting called by the right "The most liberal candidate ever." Again, as if that means something. Put it this way. If I have Bush on my left, and Hitler on my right, equal distances apart, and then take a baby-step to the right, am I center right? What does center-right mean when you take the relative position out of it.

I love it when people talk about how Obama and/or any liberal is "socialist." Pretty much if anyone does that I know for a fact they don’t have a clue as to what socialism means because if they did, they wouldn’t be calling the Democrats a socialist. I ask them which Democrat is advocating for the government to take over the means of production. At that point they look at me with a blank and stupid stare. I then refer them to this quote of Mussolini , "The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power." Then I ask them, which of these is closer to being true, 1) we are in danger of the state taking over them means of production, or 2) we are in danger of the corporations (i.e. the means of production) taking over the state. Then they stare blankly for another moment or two before they get it. The first thing is, the Republicans aren’t "center right" they are FAR right and, with apologies to Godwin’s law, on their first step to the road of fascism. When we literally have studies done to protect the public interest, which are then usurped, spun, and overwritten to protect private corporate interests that’s Corporatism, and a hairs-breadth from fascism. So whatever Joe the Pundit says, I don’t think that "America" agrees with the notion of corporatism. In fact I think that they are a far more "liberal" crowd than Joe the Pundit realizes.

On the subject of gun control Americans are nearly 2-1 for it. Again, by a nearly 2-1 margin Americans currently believe that those who are making more than $75,000 a year should be paying more than they are (which is a far cry from the $250,000 that Obama proposes). Since Gallup has done polling on the subject, those who are pro-choice outnumber those who are pro-life in every single poll . Americans, by a nearly 3-1 margin favor Universal Health Care. Again, by a 2-1 margin Americans oppose the war in Iraq, and 71 percent think the money we’ve spent over there is to blame for the economic crisis. Nearly 60 percent of Americans think there should be some sort of legal recognition of same-sex couples, either through marriage or civil unions. By a nearly 3-1 margin Americans favor Obama’s education policies over those of John McCain. Look, you could probably go on for quite a while here, but when you break things down issue by issue here it’s pretty apparent. America is, by Joe the Pundits standard, pretty darned liberal. In fact, if Obama is the most liberal candidate to ever run for the Presidency of the United States of America, then this might be the most liberal the country has ever been. Perhaps that’s why America is going to elect the "Axis of Liberals" to lead it.

This brings up one of the craziest, most idiotic things I’ve read lately, and I’ve read it more than once. It seems that a lot of the endorsements of McCain (which there are thankfully few of) are citing his superior ability to work out compromises in Congress. Ahem? McCain is going to do a better job of working smoothly with a Democratic Congress, which has already bent over backwards, perhaps too willingly, than a Democratic President who shares the same goals and views? That’s just plain silly. I think the "Axis of Liberals" are going to take a couple of years to just get the country back on track from where it is now. It’s high time America got what she wants, now that she knows there are scarier things out there than trumped up Socialism.

November 2, 2008

Socialist-Muslim-Pedophiliac-Anti-American-Flag-Hating-Celberity-Terrorist Sympathizer Endorses McCain on Global Warming

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 3:31 pm

Seriously, if McCain really believes all that he and his surrogates say about Obama then why is he using this?

October 31, 2008

On Obama, Israel and Fallacies

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 12:34 pm

A couple of days ago, highlighting his "expertise" on foreign policy Joe the "Dumber" Wurzelbacher agreed that a vote for Obama would mean the death of Israel. Incredibly, he stated that he was able to make this analysis based on his reading. I suppose that one could come to that conclusion if they read their email, but not if they actually made the honest effort to get informed. The bashes on Obama’s Israel policy consist of certain common fallacies and set the record straight on where Obama actually stands on Israel.

There is an argument which logicians refer to as a "straw man," which is perhaps the most common type of fallacy found in the political world. A straw man refers to when a person’s actual position is misrepresented or distorted into something other than what it actually is. The perpetrator of the fallacy then attacks the "straw man," the distorted viewpoint to "prove" their case. It is a fallacy because in erecting the straw man the arguer never has to address the actual issue. In attacking Obama’s position on Israel they never actually attack Obama’s position on Israel, they attack a straw man. The danger in encountering a straw man argument is to defend the straw man. To defend the straw man legitimizes the straw man and the straw man is not the real argument. For that reason I have no intent to get into specific details in regards to the straw man they have erected, but rather I will dismiss it by addressing how and why it was erected.

Back in the day fox hunters would drag a dried, smoked herring across the path of a fox to throw off the scent for the dogs, and make the hunt more challenging. The smoked herring would be red in color, or a "red herring." In logic a red herring refers to a similar tool of fallacy, i.e. an argument which is designed to throw the discussion off the subject. The official term is Ignoratio elenchi, meaning "irrelevant conclusion." One type of red herring is "guilt by association" where the perpetrator of the fallacy tries to associate a person with other persons, and then equate the position of those persons with that of the original person. In this case the "trail" is Obama’s position on Israel, and the "red herring" is the position other peoples on Israel. Whatever people loosely connected with Obama think is not the same as what Obama thinks. Some might say that it is if those are in an advisory position. I’d agree insomuch as it is to the degree to which he is taking their advice, i.e. if I advise someone to go jump off a bridge, that doesn’t make them suicidal unless they act on the advice. If someone wants to point to a person who is anti-Semitic and who provably has Obama’s ear, and wants to share that information with me I’ll be happy to address it. However, to simply point to one person who may or may not have acted in some advisory role at some point in time and then was fired for some anti-Semitic thing they said in an unrelated forum is a red herring. Pointing to someone who has Palestinian sympathies and has had conversations with Obama is a red herring. Pointing to someone who simply endorsed Obama, but doesn’t even have conference with him is a big, stinking red herring. I will not chase down red herrings, giving them equal weight with sound logic, and neither should anyone else.

In the Middle Ages when a town was struck by the bubonic plague the Christians would sometimes accuse the Jews of poisoning the well. The Jews would then be unfairly persecuted, attacked, and thrown out of town. If they defended themselves they were reminded that they had poisoned the well, and they were just saying they hadn’t because they were being punished. Ergo, the poisoned well became the basis both for attacking the Jews and for them not being able to defend themselves. It is where we get the expression in logic, "poisoning the well." Poising the well occurs when a person is not allowed to speak for themselves because they have a personal interest in the argument. In a bizarre twist of logic the Obama attackers arbitrarily dismiss anything that Obama has to say about what Obama thinks about Israel because he’s just "saying it to get elected." Such an argument is impossible to defend. The perpetrators of these fallacies put themselves in a unique position, being able to uniquely point to who does and doesn’t speak for the candidate. Only those people who agree with the predisposed conclusion are given credence. It’s poisoning the well, it’s bad logic, and it’s proof of nothing. It’s also ironic that what begin as an anti-Semitic logic is now being used to paint someone as anti-Semitic.

In discussing these issues with certain people like Joe the Dumber they get very adamant and thrust out their fingers and get red faced and accuse the logical of ignoring the facts. This is not ignoring the fact though, it’s ignoring the fallacy. The facts are not what other people, remotely associated with Obama have said, it is what Obama himself has to say. It is ridiculous that it should take four paragraphs of discussion regarding the rules of logic to get to the relatively simple point that Obama is the most qualified person to speak about what is going on in the mind of Obama but it has.

So what does Obama say? Let’s first establish a common ground here, a universal point of agreement, a premise from which we may begin our discussion. Namely, I think it’s pretty easy to agree that the situation in Israel and the Middle East is complicated and controversial. Because of this combination of complexity and controversy it would be virtually impossible to have any authentic discussion of it without having statements that can be taken out of context and misrepresented. So when the smearers take a single statement of Obama’s, parse it, spin it and then try to present that as that as some bizarre sort of synecdoche of Obma’s entire thought on Israel, it should raise flags. The particular quote I refer to is this:

"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel."

For those that don’t know, and I imagine there may be some, the Likud Party is the fourth largest party in Israel. The Likud charter calls for the annexation and settlement of the entire Land of Israel, which comprises the current territory of the State of Israel, as well as West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the whole of Jerusalem. The Likud party also was instrumental in the David Accords, which was the first peace agreement between Israel and the Arab States, but that’s not what Obama is talking about here, and it would be disingenuous to bring it up. What Obama is referring to is that here in America there is a certain segment that feels the only type of pro-Israel stance there is is a hard-line, hawkish stance Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is a minority view of Jews both here and in Israel, but those who hold it scream that anyone who does not is an anti-Semite. Hmmmm—an extremist group within a minority party that argues unless you hold their view you are against the country in question—that’s starting to sound awfully familiar. What Obama is saying in that statement is that our friendship with Israel cannot be equated with whether or not we take an extremist position that most in Israel disagree with.

Here’s the irony of this statement: it actually comes from a pretty detailed discourse in a speech dedicated to Obama’s thoughts on US relations with Israel, (a speech which, apart from the above quote, is conspicuously absent in all the speculative emails and youtube videos on the subject.) In this speech Obama actually does give a statement which characterizes his overall view on the subject of Israel.

Our job is to never forget that the threat of violence is real. Our job is to renew the United States’ efforts to help Israel achieve peace with its neighbors while remaining vigilant against those who do not share this vision. Our job is to do more than lay out another road map; our job is to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the region.

That effort begins with a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel: our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy. That will always be my starting point. And when we see all of the growing threats in the region: from Iran to Iraq to the resurgence of al-Qaeda to the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah, that loyalty and that friendship will guide me as we begin to lay the stones that will build the road that takes us from the current instability to lasting peace and security.

In this statement there are three things to take note of 1) It lays out unequivocally that the US and Israel are allies, and Obama considers that alliance to be critical. 2) The US has a "job" to do, namely, not forget the threat of violence, renew our efforts to help Israel achieve peace, and be vigilant against those who don’t share this vision. 3) Obama specifies who "those" are unequivocally, the Hamas, the Hezbollah, Iran, and the al-Qaeda. Any suggestion that Obama’s position on any of the above is anything else is wrong, blatantly wrong. It is a straw man, and the straw man has been dismantled.

Having said all that I’d like to point out why the straw man has been erected. If you take a step back and consider it, it seems very odd that to some people the essential criteria in voting for who the President of this country is what would be best for another country. Of course the same people would look at that and accuse me of being an anti-Zionist or something of the sort. The primary reason they feel it is so important is not political but theological. In their view it’s all about the Lord’s second coming. To them Israel needs to have the promised territory and rebuild the temple. In short they suggest that God needs our vote because a vote for McCain means a vote for Likud and a vote for Likud is a vote for the West Bank and Gaza strip, and a vote for that is a vote for the Lord’s return. It’s ridiculous.

I am a Christian, and I believe in the Lord’s return and I don’t think that how I vote on Tuesday has a hill of beans to do with when the Lord comes back. To suggest anything of the like is to suggest that God, who raises and establishes kings, is subject to democracy, and particularly the democracy of a single nation. Such arguments are not only illogical, they are heretical. I believe that God is sovereign, even when I don’t understand what He’s doing. There’s no question about whether God’s sovereignty will be represented—it will be, the only question is whether those Christians who don’t vote for the winner will accept God’s arrangement the day after the election. The bottom line is God is God, and he needs neither our vote nor America to establish what He needs to establish in Israel in order to make the way for His return.

Still one might argue that God moves through men etcetera. The presumption of such argument is that McCain automatically is somehow better than Obama for Israel. I’m not so sure. First we’ve already established that Obama will do whatever is necessary to defend Israel, so in terms of willingness there’s really no difference between the two. McCain and Obama are both equally willing to aid Israel if and when it needs our help. However, willingness and ability are two different matters. There are at least three different ways that a President Obama would be better situated to help Israel than a President McCain would.

First, Obama is willing to meet with Iran without preconditions. While much has been made of this wording and who would be willing to meet with who and so on, the bottom line is that there’s an underpinning logic that Obama has that gets ignored in all the rhetoric, that being that you can’t change people’s minds unless you talk to them. Does this mean that Obama thinks that he’s going to have meeting with Ahmadinejad, who will then have an epiphany and change his mind about wanting to nuke Israel? Of course not! It’s pretty plain that’s not what Obama’s thought is. No, just sitting down and talking is not going to solve the answer the answers to all the world’s problems, but it might solve some of them. By refusing to talk to Iran unless they agree to agree to us is just plain silly. That’s the whole point of negotiating. So whatever ground can be made up by diplomacy stands a better chance of being made up with a President Obama than with a President McCain based on the simple fact that McCain thinks diplomacy is "naïve" while Obama thinks it’s a starting point.

Second, militarily speaking the nation is stretched thin. We are fighting a war in two countries, and if we needed to defend Israel, that could extend to three, or even more. Suffice to say that the sooner we get safely out of Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving behind stable nations, the sooner we will be able to strengthen our military and be able to defend Israel if they were attacked. You can pretty much draw a straight line from our responsibly getting out of the current wars to our ability to defend Israel. As long as we are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan our ability to defend Israel is restricted. McCain is opposed to timelines in Iraq and pushes for a surge in Afghanistan, a strategy that conflicts with the General on the ground there, David D. McKiernan. It’s my belief that McCain’s views on both fronts will prolong our presence there, and in turn, inhibit our ability to defend Israel.

Third, and finally, is our economy. Any nation is only as strong as its economy. Witness the fall of the USSR and the so called "failed experiment." McCain’s continued commitment to the notion of "trickle down" economics suggests that were he President, he would continue the failed policies that have brought about the worst economy in the country since the Great Depression. It’s hard to believe that the same policies which caused this crisis are going to cure it. As long as America is suffering economically its decision to defend Israel would remain moot if it simply can’t afford to. For these three reasons I’m persuaded that even if you accept the premise that God uses man, Israel is better off with an Obama presidency than one with McCain.

Joe the Dumber is ignorant and ill-informed. He has no business at all prognosticating about the future of Israel, and even less preaching about the virtues of being informed. Unfortunately, unlike the millionaire plumber, a rarity and in Joe’s case a myth, the misinformed champion Joe the Dumber serves a much more ubiquitous character in American society. If you meet them, or people confused by them, please feel free to send them to this blog.

October 21, 2008

Progressive Taxation, Socialism and Godwin’s Law

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 3:26 pm

In case you missed it last night Maddow tied accusations of socialism to Godwin’s Law. Godwin’s Law essentially stipulates that all online discussions are headed towards accusations of "Nazi" or "Hitler" and the first person who by hyperbole, invokes the accusation, essentially loses the argument based on being an idiot. That’s my definition anyway. Maddow suggested that the thought be amended to include the accusations of "socialism" in political campaigns. It appears to this blogger that that is long overdue.

In recklessly tossing around accusations about socialism McCain dates himself and Palin exposes herself. McCain seems to think that we are still in the eighties, perhaps that is why he keeps running a campaign about the issues from then, earmarks, welfare and communism. Palin’s discussion on the issue suggest that everything she needed to know about socialism she learned from Rush Limbaugh. In both cases there is a danger associated with their errors though, and these errors merit discussion.

There are two ways of understanding socialism; the first is what it actually is, the second is how the conservatives present it. What it actually is can be described as the redistribution of wealth through state owned and/or controlled distribution of goods and services. The conservative crowd just likes to equate it with anything that faintly resembles a redistribution of wealth. Ergo you talk about something like universal health care, they say socialism. You talk about equally funded public education, they hear socialism. Most of all to them progressive taxation is tantamount to socialism. All of these underlie their misconception of socialism in that they confuse the goal of socialism with the means of accomplishing it. In actuality socialism is much more about the means than the objective though. In other words unless there is state control of goods, services or means of production there is no socialism.

I point this out for two reasons. First, the candidate making serious overtures in the direction of socialism is the one who is throwing around the "S" word with abandon and disdain. How anyone can advocate buying up 300 billion dollars worth of private mortgages and then complain about socialism is beyond me. On several levels I think the proposition is so patently stupid that it would never get passed anyway, even if McCain were to manage to pull his campaign out of the wood chipper so I’m not really going to discuss that part of it in detail. I just think it merits mention that McCain is actually advocating the more socialist agenda here. The second reason I wanted to point out what socialism actually is is that Obama hasn’t come close to socialism by advocating a progressive tax structure. Explaining how a progressive tax structure is not socialism is like trying to explain why a sperm whale is not a duck even though they both eat fish. Just because they have one thing in common hardly makes them the same thing. A progressive tax structure still operates under the paradigm of capitalism and free enterprise.

(Before moving on I want to address one other argument though, that free enterprise is always better than socialism. I disagree and can more or less sum up my argument in a single word, "Halliburton." Whatever the folks on the right say, free enterprise doesn’t always do everything better. In fact, sometimes they do things a heck of a lot worse. The premise is that free enterprise will always do things better because they are seeking a profit, but that presumes that profit is always the goal; that efficiency can always be measured in dollars. Even in their most mundane of tasks Halliburton failed miserably, offering to our troops what can be generously described as a horrible dining experience, and what may be more accurately described as malnourishment and food poisoning. They may have saved money in the process but they cost our troops considerable morale. The dining experience is the most mundane and least dangerous of the tasks that Halliburton was responsible for. They did a lot more than that, but the effect was the same, less benefit for our national security, more profit for Halliburton. My point here is that "socialism" is not always bad, and in fact sometimes it’s better. The question should not be whether it is a nation’s best interest to be socialist, but to what degree it is to be socialist. It’s not my intent to answer that question here, but I do want to point out, that in the backdrop of all of this conversation, socialism isn’t a dirty word.)

Moving on now though, let’s return to the subject of progressive taxation. I’m not an economist and I don’t really pretend to be, yet I’m a pretty reasonable person and I think I’ve made certain observations in life. One thing I’ve noticed is that money doesn’t flow down, it flows up. When I go to Microcenter and buy this laptop my money goes to Microcenter. Now some of that theoretically went to the salesman who helped me, some went to the manager of the store, some went to the CEO, some went to the shareholders of both corporations. The money I spent went to a lot of people, and they spent the money in turn, and in turn they spent money. Always a little percent of that money ends up working its way up to the top, until eventually almost all of it works its way up to the top. In this little example we can intuit two things about progressive tax cuts. 1) If I have an extra $500 to spend it’s a lot more than $500. The more hands it passes through the more money it is. If you give an extra 500 dollars to a million people it is a lot more than 500 million dollars because each of those little $500 tax cuts are going to go through an exponential number of people, each of which will in turn have more money to spend. That this benefits the economy should be pretty obvious. 2) Money flows up, not down.

The "trickle down" theory of economies is at this point in time another "failed experiment." The underlying problem with it is money doesn’t trickle down, it trickles up. Imagine that the economy is a fountain, and that money is the "water" of that fountain. The idea is to keep the fountain going, to keep the water moving through the fountain. The free market, capitalism, by virtue of the way it works keeps the "water" flowing up. The problem that can occur though is that the top of the fountain can get gummed up, blocking the water from being able to come down. When that happens the water at the base dries up and the entire economy stagnates. What progressive taxes do is clean up the top of the fountain and force the flow of wealth to reach the base of the fountain. When the top of the fountain gums up the whole fountain stops flowing, and the whole fountain suffers.

Now I imagine there are some Chicago-Schoolers, puffed full of theory who are going to be quick to lecture me on the virtues of supply side, and lecture me on how if that money is given to the wealthy then they can have money to invest in generating jobs etcetera. The problem with theory though is that it has to get tested, and tested this theory has been, for the last 30 years, and the final grades have come in, to the tune of a trillion dollar bailout, a 150 billion dollar stimulus package and a 10 trillion dollar plummet in the stock market. I’m no student of economics but I am one of history, and I can tell you that certain things are historically true. When you cut the taxes on the wealthy and shift the primary burden to the middle class you get a wealthier version of wealthy, an increase in those below the poverty level and a smaller middle class. When you increase the taxes on the wealthy and cut the taxes on the poor and middle class the trend is to take more people out of poverty, enlarge the middle class, and incredibly, to also increase the wealth of the wealthy. How can that be? Simple. Money flows up. The economists and theorists can worry about what should happen; I’ll worry about what has happened.

Perhaps the problem with the liberal presentation of this argument is that in the past it has relied too much on the fairness of it. After all there is an argument to be made that if you have a billion dollars and have to spend an extra 100 million in taxes that will have no effect on your standard of living, but with that same 100 million 100,000 families can get health insurance. In such a case, there’s something fundamentally fair about you paying more. That doesn’t need to be the end of the argument though. It can be extended that because those 100,000 families get insured you get your 100 million dollars back, with interest, and with the knowledge that your hundred million dollars actually made the nation a better nation, and a stronger nation, and a better place to live. It’s time for Americans to realize that progressive taxation is better for everyone, and you can’t do away that that by shouting the word "socialist." Godwin’s Law now says so!

October 8, 2008

Obama Wins Debate, Filibuster Proof Senate?

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 5:16 pm

Once again the pundits are saying that this debate had no clear winner, and once again they couldn’t be more wrong. It boggles my mind how what should be an inescapable conclusion isn’t. There’s one way, and only one way to determine if there was a winner. There’s no such thing as "points" here. There are only voters and voters overwhelmingly broke for Obama on this one in both the CBS and CNN polls. Ergo, Obama won. Of the roughly 23 percent of previously undecided voters who made up their mind, 13 percent broke Obama and 10 percent McCain. That’s actually much bigger than it might sound since Obama is now passing the 50 percent threshold in the daily tracking polls, but that hardly scratches the surface. The polling reflects a far bigger picture, and the end result could very well be a filibuster proof Senate for Barack Obama.

There were a couple of very telling points in the debate which haven’t gotten the same amount of attention from the pundits. First at one point, while Obama was speaking, McCain, unable to tolerate a point of view other than his own being expressed, paced about the stage, bringing to mind images of Mr. Burns , especially after he started railing on about nuclear power. Watching the debate on CNN I watched the little lies most of the debate, and Obama far and away scored higher on all but one question. One question was particularly striking in the difference between how voters responded. When McCain answered about health care, the lies hung down around the middle of the graph, when Obama answered the question, the women had him topped off for virtually the entire answer. It was the most positive point for either candidate during the entire debate. In the debate the lines showed one very clear thing, that voters liked Obama better than McBurns.

If you want to see the details the click the links to the polls above but the bottom line you can draw from voter response is this, more voters like Obama, thought he was more likely to bring change to Washington, thought he was less of a "typical" politician, thought he was smarter and trusted him more on the single most important issue in this election, the economy. They also felt McBurns was more negative and less likely to answer questions. Most of these were large breaks as well, often going 2-1, 3-1, or even 4-1. Put together independent voters by and large thought Obama was smarter and more likely to bring change to the most important issue they face, and it’s one they don’t like. In the end it’s hard to see them going for the cranky dumb guy who doesn’t really seem to want to change anything. And remember, this was supposed to be McBurs’ debate.

On top of this add the fact that this week the economic news has been either bad or worse. The Dow tumbled yesterday. Paulson had a press conference today, and the Dow dropped again. Whenever there’s been bad economic news there’s been a corresponding change in the polls favoring not only Obama, but Democrats in general, across the board, in other races as well. Already the Senate is shaping up to look like a 57-43 split according to the polling, and that includes five Republican states within the margin of error. That also is weighting several polls, some of which were taken before the bailout. For instance, before the bailout Franken trailed Coleman in Minnesota by 9 points, now he leads by 4. Now Coleman, who has made transparency a centerpiece of his campaign has apparently been getting some extravagant gifts, there’s something sketchy going on about it and he’s something less than transparent . Minnesota could easily shift to the Democrats. The latest polls in Georgia, North Carolina and Kentucky are all virtual deadlocks. One other point to look at is Obama’s huge voter registration drive in North Carolina and Georgia, as well as the huge turnout of black voters in Mississippi. On top of this is the "cell phone" voters, who are those who only have cell phones and aren’t polled. These constitute over 10 percent of the electorate and are more likely to vote for Obama. Generally when they are polled it makes a difference of 2-3 points for Obama. Another move in the direction of the Democrats, and suddenly we’re considering a very realistic possibility that the Dems could get 60 Senate seats, a dream beyond dreaming two years ago.

Another factor to add into this equation that there will be a verdict on "Troopergate " announced this Friday. Palin has already been faltering in the polls apart from the base, doing a better job of convincing people she shouldn’t be Vice President than that she should be. All her fallacious negative attacks about the negative company that Obama is keeping leave her open to the very legitimate stories that are getting attention in the blogosphere , but haven’t yet hit the mainstream news. If she persists in these attacks then filter their way into the mainstream news. That could have devastating repercussions to the McCain campaign. Yet to not attack takes away the only thing that Palin is any good at. If the "Troopergate" comes out well for her it will just say she is guilty of poor judgment. This would still be a big black-eye to McCain for two reasons. First, it will reflect on his judgment that he chose, without properly vetting a veep who has bad judgment. Second, it will inevitably lead to reports about his own slap on the wrist for "bad judgment" in the last major financial crisis we had. And remember, this is the best case scenario. If she’s found guilty of abuse of power or worse it would be nothing less than a complete humiliation to McCain. However for all her faults Palin has become the energy of the campaign and absent her the campaign is going to be utterly listless.

Finally add on the fact that according to a CNN poll released yesterday, 6 in 10 voters said they believe that Obama will win the election. Even if you accept that every Obama voter thinks this then it would still mean that about 1 in 4 McCain voters don’t believe their guy will win. People don’t always fight traffic ad wait in long lines to vote for a guy they believe is going to lose, especially if it’s not a guy they are all that excited about anyway, and honestly most Republicans are not enthusiastic about McCain. This is likely to be even more pronounced after last night’s performance, which many believe was McCain’s last big chance to turn things around. This is starting to look more like a landslide than a close election. McCain’s not going to win any votes for Republican Senators and

October 7, 2008

“War Heroes Don’t Cry”, an Open Letter to John McCain

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 12:51 pm

Dear Mr. McCain,

As the primary season was going on I took you at your word when you said that you wanted to run a civil campaign. I hoped you would win. I even considered the possibility of voting for you, but almost as soon as the primary season ended, so did your self-respect. You want to complain that "life isn’t fair" but I’d contend that what you are witnessing is life being fair. War heroes don’t cry John McCain.

Perhaps the reason for your plummet in the polls has nothing to do with the electorate not appreciating your "noble sacrifice" when you made tried to pass off a cheap parlor trick as concern for the country, but has more to do with them seeing it for what it really was. Perhaps they also noticed the way you panicked and adopted a "policy of the day" strategy, changing your mind more often than you change your clothes. Or, perhaps it has something to do with the way they noticed that it was your commitment to deregulation, the very cause of the crisis, which you not only failed to take responsibility for, but even tried to suddenly paint yourself as the very opposite of. War heroes own up to their mistakes John McCain.

It could be that people saw that spiteful woman, who herself admits that she is a dog with lipstick. There’s another word for female dogs, and she’s sure lived up to that word. It’s not just her idiocy that calls into question your judgment, it’s her vindictiveness , her lying , her-self serving "public service ," her patriotic tax dodging , and most of all her slanderous accusations. Sarah Palin is an irresponsible, sloppy, seat of the pants gamble, and it reflects something of your character. War heroes don’t play dice with the nation John McCain.

Maybe it is your new penchant for lying. You lied about Obama when you said he wanted to teach Kindergarteners how to have sex , you lied when you accused Obama of calling Palin a pig , you lied when you said that Obama wants to increase the size of the government by 23 percent , you lied about Obama’s energy policy , you lied about his tax policy and you lied about him being to blame for high gas prices . You lied about him on Iran , on Pakistan , on Afghanistan , on Iraq , and on the troops , and this is barely the icing on the cake. Then you have the audacity to be offended at the notion that you’ve been anything less than truthful . Perhaps the reason the electorate is turning against you Mr. McCain, is that regardless of how you get offended at the suggestion, you are a liar. War heroes don’t lie Mr. McCain.

Or perhaps it’s your campaign strategy of trying to anger your own base. You ignore your responsibility to curb them when they accuse your opponent of being a terrorist, or even when exhortations of killing him are shouted at your running mate’s rally. It is sad and pathetic that you would let these things pass. What you have done is not to inspire the public, what you have done is incite the masses. John McCain, war heroes don’t incite, they inspire.

Whatever you once were is no longer who you are. You have become a whiner, an excuse maker, a gambler, a liar and rioter. You have no shame, no dignity and no respect due you. I gave you respect for what you did in the war but now you have betrayed that and wasted it. You are a weak, pathetic man, who won’t even own your own campaign, but instead hide behind the skirts of an Alaskan beauty queen. Perhaps instead of making excuses and feeling sorry for yourself, you should do something truly heroic and own up to your mistakes and failings. You might not win the election, but you might start winning back the respect of the electorate.


The Eclectic Quill

October 6, 2008

Why John McCain Should Never Be President

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 7:20 pm

There’s been a lot of criticism aimed at John McCain, some of it is fair but some of it may seem, in isolation, to be petty. In fact there is enough of the "petty" reasons floating about that I could probably come up with a sizable list of more than a hundred of those reasons without a great deal of effort. When you start accounting for the sizable list of flip-flops, lies, gaffes and unconscionable laughs it doesn’t take long to start realizing that there is a pretty big dartboard to throw at there. Defenders of McCain may look at some of these and think that it is just "hating" on McCain. However, if you take a moment to zoom out you start to realize there are certain patterns that emerge, and in those patterns we some essential, substantive reasons that John McCain should never be President. These aren’t just policy reasons, they’re fundamental to the character and personality of John McCain.

First, there are several things that reveal something of John McCain’s temperament. If you haven’t seen the degree to which his temper can spill over, you should see this, article , but only if you want the "R" rated version. If you prefer a more PG version then you should see this . Both make the same point, albeit the first more sharply. McCain’s temperament is simply not suited for Presidential politics. It’s not just the outburst, it’s not just cursing, it’s the impetus—disagreement, which should cause great concern at the notion of McCain being President. He often cites himself as being a "maverick" who would work across party lines, and then exaggerates his history of doing so. However, he only works across the aisle when they agree with him. There’s a tremendous difference between putting aside party to get your legislation passed and being able to set aside your agenda to get their legislation passed. McCain’s temper is a result of being closed minded, of not being able to compromise, or to consider if there is any validity to ways of thinking other than his own. His temperament is not just that of a hot-head, that would be acceptable. Clinton was a hot-head and was able to work with a Republican Congress. McCain is a closed-minded hot-head, and that means he would be impossible to work with.

Second, there is his erratic behavior in crisis. It’s not just his behavior during the economic crisis; this only served to recall his behavior after the 9/11 attacks, when he was so quick to wrongly blame Iraq for the attacks in spite of the fact that there was no credible evidence that it was true. In the immediate aftermath of Leman Brothers fiasco McCain’s solution was to break up Fannie and Freddie and sell it on the free market. He took so many positions after that that the first one got lost in the shuffle, but there’s something to be said about McCain’s first reaction. It was akin to suggesting that the solution to 9/11 was to give flying lessons to Al Queda! The very thing which caused the problem was McCain’s solution! After that McCain took enough positions to rewrite the Kama Sutra, running form "the fundamentals of the economy are sound" to "this is so crucial that if I don’t stop campaigning right this instant and fly to Washing the nation will be in a depression on Monday." McCain is quite simply not to be trusted in a crisis. He panics and reacts without thinking. It’s possible to cover this up when you are serving in a body like the Senate, but when you are the man everyone is looking to for leadership, we need a President who has correct instincts, not sloppy, knee jerk reactions.

Third, there is his tendency to throw the dice . His gambling is more than a hobby it is an addiction. Would you give a gambling addict your credit card? Then why would anyone ponder giving him the keys to the White House? I don’t mean the money, Cindy makes enough money that cash is not a concern for him, I’m talking about the thrill of the big chase. He’s been willing to gamble with the election, throwing the dice with Palin and again with the rush back to Washington. Right now the dice are in the air again—or should I say the Ayers? He seeks the thrill of the win, not the proceeds of it. He craves the adrenaline rush. What gamble would he take if we made him the most powerful man in the free world? We have to consider what is at stake to lose, and how willing he would be to risk it, before we put him in the position to take the risk.

Fourth we should consider what kind of integrity he has shown. No campaign, not even the Bush campaign has been this filled with lies, or sank to the depths of the McCain campaign. He has been exposed again and again in many of these lies, such as his constant lying mantra about Obama’s tax plan. Yet those kinds of lies we come to expect in campaigns. He has taken outrageous lies to a whole new level, even suggesting that Obama wants to teach children how to have sex as one of his top priorities. What makes this especially inexcusable is that the legislation he was referring to was to protect children from pedophiles! He has accused of Obama of throwing a war to win an election, a treasonous act. Yet even these pale in comparison to the most recent, his accusations that Obama is somehow complicit in terrorism because of the actions of a man whom he would meet 30 years after those acts were committed are beyond low. They are accusations that were they made in any other field than the political spectrum would be found libelous. Such realities about the character of McCain cannot be ignored. Is it really wise to give so much power to a man with so much malice?

Finally, there is what I can only very loosely call his "sense of humor." I’m not just referring to his reputation and habit for racist jokes . I’m not referring to his rape jokes . Those by themselves are bad enough to seriously question whether that is the quality of person we would like to lead us, but those pale in comparison to the jokes he’s made about killing. First he literally jokes about nuclear strikes on Iran , then he jokes about killing Iranians again by exporting cigarettes to them . All his grandstanding and huffing about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his comments about nuking Israel become empty when you consider that he makes the same kinds of comments. Consider that if McCain were President the question that Iran might quite tellingly make is not whether we should sit down with Iran without preconditions, but whether they should sit down with us. McCain has made the same kinds of comment that he condemns! The only difference is that if he were President he would be able to legitimately carry them out. How well do you think this is going to work out in our trying to convince Iran to pursue nuclear weapons?

McCain is a man with a closed, yet opinionated man who has no tolerance for other ideas. He is willing to gamble for the mere chase of it. He is a mean, vindictive and malicious man, and his sense of humor suggests he is of a low moral fiber. He’s not "honorable" now whatever he once was. He hasn’t learned from mistakes like he should have with the Keating 5. He is the type of man that screams "Danger!!!" far more than "ready to lead." He is not able to lead now, nor will he ever be because he is constitutionally incapable. The only business he has in the White House is as a tourist, not as President.

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