Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All About McCain

So I've been pretty hard on Obama lately. And for good reason. I like the guy, but he's made some pretty crappy decisions as of late. I usually talk about those here, and then I usually end those articles with a caveat like "However, I'm still likely to vote for him, because my differences with McCain are far greater, and I'll write about those soon". Well, I'm finally getting around to it. Today, I'll lay out what exactly it is I don't like about McCain.

Now, for the record, I actually have liked the guy in the past. A lot. I was really rooting for him to win the 2000 Republican primaries. I've been following his career a lot longer than I've been following Obama's. So what's changed? Well, just about everything. But let me go over my differences with him point by point.

Policies are, after all, the most important criteria for choosing a new leader of any sort.

1. Iraq
Seriously? You won't commit to taking us out of Iraq? Oh sure, you say you want the war to end, but you refuse to make any sort of firm commitment (saying, more or less, that we need to take it as it comes). You say you want "victory", but you won't define what "victory" means in Iraq. Guess what? This is exactly what Bush has been saying all along, and look where it has gotten us! If you really are committed to ending the war, at least set yourself apart from Bush a smidgen. Since you fail to do so, I can't trust you on this one bit.

2. Energy
Granted, for a Republican, McCain has had an excellent record in supporting sound energy policies. This is one of the reasons I have liked him in the past. He has heavily supported the development of alternative forms of energy. However, this all changed around 2006, when he started running for president. His energy policy now centers on three things: oil exploration in the US, clean coal technology, and nuclear power. He does mention alternative energy sources, but his website (for example) only has a small paragraph about them buried in a huge page devoted to his energy policies. Go see for yourself. So let me talk about his three main energy proposals.
I actually do think Nuclear technology has a place in meeting our demand for energy, as long as it is done very carefully. However, what McCain (or anyone else, to be fair) fails to mention is the fact that this produces hazardous waste that remains hazardous for tens of thousands of years. Launching the waste into space is too risky. So to deal with it, someplace has to be contaminated almost permanently. The place I see for nuclear energy is a temporary measure to meet our needs while we develop alternative energy sources. This should not be a permanent measure, because we need to limit the amount of waste produced.
Clean Coal and Oil Exploration:
Yes, I put these into the same category because my issues with coal and oil are the same: we will run out of them! And very very soon! I don't actually mind the idea of drilling for more oil (as long as it is done carefully and safely, which it rarely is) or developing safe, clean ways to extract and process coal, so long that these are not the main focus of our energy policy! Putting too much money and energy into these solutions is akin to throwing it away, because it will all be gone before this century is over (and most in the scientific community believe it will happen much sooner than that)! We need to start now to focus our efforts on developing other sources of energy before the coal and oil run dry! Solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal energy are all excellent solutions to our problems; they just need to be developed! Oh hey, and in developing them, we might just be able to create a freaking ton more jobs and help fix the economy at the same time! How's that for a smart idea?

3. Diplomacy
I firmly agree with Obama when it comes to Diplomacy. Of course we should be talking with our enemies! That's how we get them to be, well, not our enemies anymore. Seems to have worked pretty well in North Korea. However, McCain seems dead-set against even taking a second glance at people who we should be negotiating with, whether it is with Cuba, Iran, the Palestinian government, or North Korea.
Wait, North Korea? Didn't I just say we negotiated with them and it worked?
Well, yes. But McCain had this to say prior to the breakthrough, in a joint statement with Senator Lieberman: "We must never squander the trust of our allies and the respect for our highest office by promising that the president will embark on an open-ended, unconditional personal negotiation with a dictator responsible for running an international criminal enterprise, a cover nuclear weapons program and a massive system of gulags." But wait, whoops, the talking worked.

4. Taxes
Do you know how much national debt we have? Nine trillion dollars. Specifically, in the early afternoon of of Tuesday, August 5, 2008 when I wrote this paragraph, we had nine-trillion, five-hundred-sixty-six-billion, seven-hundred-fifty-one million, three-hundred-twenty-three-thousand, eight-hundred-twenty-two dollars and fifty-three cents of national debt. For the record, that's $9,566,751,323,822.53. That almost sounds like a made-up number! A hundred-zillion-gajillion-bazillion! I'll rant more about that later, but my point here is that President Bush added more onto it than any other president in history. Do you know how he did that? He cut taxes during a time of war. And not only once, but three times! While we needed the money to fight an endless war in Iraq and a marginally effective one in Afghanistan simultaneously, we decided we needed to dig ourselves farther into a hole by cutting taxes. And why? It would "help the economy." Well, look where that has gotten us. I'm no economist, and I'm certainly no political expert, but even I could see how this was bad. And I was really ecstatic when McCain stood up and argued against Bush's tax cuts! He argued against them for all the right reasons; because we weren't curbing spending, because we were borrowing heavily from future generations, because they weren't necessarily good for the economy, and because we were at war. I was inspired that someone from the right would have the guts to stand up and say these things. But now? Now he's all for keeping the Bush tax cuts in tact and making them permanent. Hooray.

5. The "Patriot" Act
McCain voted for the "Patriot" Act. Need I say more? (Though, to be fair, Obama voted to reauthorize the darned thing. Oh why oh why did you do that?)

6. Habeus Corpus
Remember my rant a couple of months ago about granting Guantanamo prisoners the right of Habeus Corpus? Back in 2005, when I still liked McCain, he went on and on about how those prisoners should be granted that right. It was great! Here, I'll even give you a direct quote:
"Now, I know that some of these guys are terrible, terrible killers and the worst kind of scum of humanity. But, one, they deserve to have some adjudication of their cases. And there's a fear that if you release them that they'll go back and fight again against us. And that may have already happened. But balance that against what it's doing to our reputation throughout the world and whether it's enhancing recruiting for people to join al-Qaeda and other organizations and want to do bad things to the United States of America. I think, on balance, the argument has got to be--the weight of evidence has got to be that we've got to adjudicate these people's cases, and that means that if it means releasing some of them, you'll have to release them."
And what does he have to say now that the Supreme Court has given them those rights? He called it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." No, Mr. McCain, it was one of the best. You're now totally wrong on this one.

7. Lobbying Transparency
If various groups are going to be allowed to make direct appeals to government officials (a.k.a. lobbying), then it's only fair that the people of the United States be allowed to know who is paying for the lobbying, right? Well, McCain used to be vocally for this sort of thing (yet another reason why I used to like him), but as the presidential campaign approached, he voted against legislation that would have done just that.

8. Gay Marriage.
He's against legal gay marriage. Specifically, he has said that he doesn't mind if people have "ceremonies", but that it shouldn't be legal. As I have expressed in the past, I believe this to be a critical human rights issue, and McCain is on the wrong side. Come on, let these people have a little happiness. It's not as if your own marriage is going to crumble and you and your wife will stop loving each other just because some gay people get married somewhere, right?

After all, isn't it rather important for a leader to be ethical while he or she is.. er.. leading?

1. Iraq
When the war in Iraq was approaching, McCain said several times that it would likely be an easy victory and that we wouldn't be there for long. That's fine, and he was certainly entitled to his opinion on that. However, he more recently made this remark: "The American People were led to believe that this would be some kind of day at the beach, which many of us fully understood from the very beginning would be a very difficult undertaking." Hmm, really? And who led them to believe that, Mr. McCain? And hey, I found a YouTube video that contained clips of all of this here.

2. Campaign Finance
This is the main reason I have liked John McCain in the past. He has been a great champion to the cause of limiting corporate influence in the government, which is my personal number one issue period. And while McCain appears to have backed off some of his previous stances during his current presidential campaign, that it not what I'm complaining about here. I'm going to describe a serious ethical lapse.
The campaign finance law works like this where it concerns presidential primaries: if someone opts in to public financing, they get over $5 million in government funding for their campaign, but they aren't allowed to spend more than $54 million before their party's nominating convention. Well, in mid 2007, McCain's campaign was looking pretty well done for. He was almost out of money and down to just a few staffers. So, he took out a couple of loans, stating that he would opt-in to the public financing system and use the government funds as collateral. This is perfectly fine for a candidate to do. However, when McCain had a huge comeback and looked like he had a chance to win the nomination early this year, he decided to arbitrarily opt our of the finance reform to be able to spend all the money he wanted, despite the fact that he had used the government funds as collateral for his loans. This was not only extremely unethical, but also illegal.
But isn't there someone to police this sort of improper behavior, you might ask? Well, there is, I might answer. It's called the Federal Election Commission, or FEC. Unfortunately, the FEC can't act on this. They can't act on anything right now since they don't have a quorum due to Republican stalling tactics. How convenient.
I should mention, in all fairness, that I have completely unrelated issues with Obama concerning campaign finance that you can read about here.

And, well, that's all I can think of right now. Maybe I'll post with more at another time. But did you notice how I never once went after McCain's age, or his personal life, or his temper, or his occasional gaffes? You shouldn't need to stoop to such levels to form an argument against someone. Let's have a clean contest here, guys.

But yeah. I don't think McCain would do us any good at all. If he had been elected in 2000, maybe. But not anymore.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

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