Tag: debates

Libertarian Party Debate

At the risk of offending someone in the Libertarian Party, I must start with a disclaimer:

I began watching their debate this past weekend (a week late) with the hopes that I would see a REAL debate on issues of the role of Government, and personal Responsibility.

What I got was a cross between a Star-Trek convention and an anti-war rally.

The main problem I had with the debate (on May 24th) between the Libertarian candidates, was that it was not a debate.  They basically fell all over each other trying to be more “Libertarian” than the other.  Noone disagreed on anything; noone challenged anything.  The first hint should have been Mike Gravel being on stage; who by almost EVERY STANDARD is the OPPOSITE of Libertarian:  A progressive to the core, his mere presence confused me.

I was going to wax philosophical about my feelings even more, but Stuart Rothenberg beat me to the punch:

You’d think that, at the very least, Libertarians would look coldbloodedly at their own status and avoid the usual delusional propaganda that we all are force-fed by Democrats and Republicans. After all, they are a mere asterisk on the American political landscape, and some of the convention participants were funny and self-deprecating. But no, even the Libertarians are glued to the ridiculous rhetoric that they are “in this to win.”

I’ll take it a step further and say that they should recognize their comments as even more jingoistic and rhetorical than any Republican or Democratic debate I’ve ever seen.  I can at least congratulate them on nominating Bob Barr, who, although not inspiring, compared to some on the stage, could be considered downright Charismatic, and then contrast that with the Vice-Presidential Candidate, Wayne Allyn Root, who I was thoroughly convinced was going to start selling me Oxy-Clean…at any moment.

The depressing thing is I agree with a good chunk of their rhetoric.  I could take it all…the “military-industrial-complex,” the “get Government out of your wallet,”  and even the anti-”war on drugs” tripe.  But I would have to agree with Huckabee’s comments recently that described the Libertarian movement as “soulless.”  Less Government is a good thing to stand for…but what’s missing from the picture is what fills that void.  Personal responsibility should be couple with Personal Accountability, or at least some acknowledgment of the REASONS behind an overactive Government.

I especially cringed when someone (the nerdy guy in the middle from Massachussetts) used the tired and exasperating excoriation of State’s Rights by bringing up Jim Crow laws.  So States should never have any say so in how they govern ever again because they once had Jim Crow laws?  What kind of logic is that.

{It reminded me of a video I saw the other day of Noam Chomsky saying that the argument that capitalism has improved the standard of living of virtually every civilization it touches is poppycock…Why?  Because someone made the argument that slaves in the South were treated better than blacks in the cities.  There’s some ironclad logic.}

The Massachusetts candidate was vying for Gay Marriage rights, which is a legitimate Libertarian view (that I vehemently disagree with), but since when does State’s Rights become a COMPLETELY invalid argument for responsible Government.

Most of the rest of it was “Vote Libertarian because the ‘two-party system’ doesn’t work.”

YAAWNN.  Very…very disappointing.  If anyone has the bright idea that the Libertarian Party has the answers, they are sadly mistaken.

An open letter to Huckabee and Paul.

Gentlemen:

I was actually at a loss for words (fairly rare), after watching last night’s debate.  What I can’t understand is why a 20-year Republican Senator has such little understanding of how business really works.  And I’m equally confused why a long-time business leader can’t put that Senator in his place.

I saw Anderson (et-al.) force a “two-man race” despite the obvious fact that neither of the two men had anything substantive to say, but the two of you did.  I do not agree with either of you on everything, but am convinced that both of you have a better understanding of true conservatism than either of your opponents.  Even though you represent different factions of the Conservative movement I want to make an appeal to you both:

Stay in.  Whatever you have to do…stay in.  I don’t care how many delegates you come into the convention with.  Fight your way to that convention tooth and nail and make sure the Republican party hears you both before they nominate anyone.  Republicans are more effective when they are underdogs.  Be underdogs and be effective.  That’s all I have to say…like I said loss of words.

Good luck.

My take on the Iowa Caucus

I’m sitting here watching the “Combo” debates, which I thought was a great idea (more on the debate later), and it occurred to me that I haven’t posted on the Iowa Caucus.

In a nutshell:

Two of my favorite guys won, and I’m not surprised, and we all know why. Was anyone else completely NON-surprised by the Iowa Caucus?

Democratic debate on CNN

I’m so tired, I’m just going to give you my play-by-play and then summarize my impressions on each candidate. Most of the questions were from YouTubers and those questions (abbreviated) are in Italics:

Dodd vs Obama: Experience vs. Change

What does the word Liberal mean?

  • Hillary makes a great point about the term, it doesn’t mean what it used to mean: limited government. “Modern Progressive” is what she prefers to call herself, {meaning…um…not-limited government.}

Gravel: Takes on Obama as taking “bundlers.” Obama gets huge applause. “the reason you know is that I passed a law saying I had to disclose it.” {Didn’t really answer the question.}

What Republicans would you work with?

  • Joe Biden: Chuck Hagel as his VP, and Dick Luger at Sec of State.
  • Edwards: How do we bring about change? Take power away from political opponents instead of compromising with them. FIGHT!

Reparations?:

  • Edwards: African Americans pay more for mortgages in South Carolina? {It apparently never occurs to him that your African American in South Carolina would have worse credit than an average White American (for a plethora of reasons). But hey…let’s FIGHT the Mortgage Lenders. Take them on. It’s a war.}
  • Obama: invest in Education. That’s a better form of reparations.
  • Kucinich supports Reparations? Or does he? It was unclear whether he was actually supporting it. Could have been rhetoric. But it sounded like he really supported it.

Katrina?

  • Dodd: shame, shame, shame…{Gulf States…white people were wiped out, too.}
  • Richardson: (bad sound quality). Eliminate any red tape? Predatory lending of insurance companies? {I think he’s drunk.}

Authentically black? Authentically female?

  • Obama: Catching a cab in Manhattan. I believe in core decency of American people.

Who would be better advocate for women? Edwards or Clinton?

  • Hillary running not because she’s a woman
  • Edwards I don’t want racists’ and sexists’ votes. 9+ minimum wage. Fight Fight Fight.
  • Hillary I’ve advocated for Women all my life.

Gay Marriage?

  • Kucinich: Tough answer: “All are created equal.”
  • Dodd distinguishes marriages and civil unions.
  • Richardson same distinction; don’t ask don’t tell should go. No discrimination.

Gay Marriage and Religion, put by a Reverend:

  • Edwards: Do not believe in opposing civil rights. Distinguishes Civil Rights and marriage. YouTube viewer is there. Fair Housing connection. Using faith as a basis is bad.
  • Difference between interracial and same-sex? Obama makes distinction even better. It’s up to the denominations to determine marriage. Rights granted by States should be equal. {Best case for Civil Unions vs. Marriage redefinition.}

Darfur: What action do you commit to?

  • Richardson: UN troops. EU sanctions. No fly zone. Humanitarian workers. Caring about Africa.
  • Biden: Where we can, we should send. Troops on the ground.
  • Clinton: Divestment sanctions on Sudan. No fly zone. Will not commit to troops in Darfur.

How do we pull out now?

  • Obama: send a clear message to Iraqi government that they need to stop going off on vacation.
  • Biden: It would take a year to get them out. Separate jurisdictions. Begin to draw out now, get majority of . {He seems agitated.}
  • Hillary: There is no military solution. Not getting answers from the Administration.
  • Kucinich: No more funds.
  • Dodd: Need dipolomacy. Noone listens to us when it comes to foreign policy.
  • Richardson: Bring them home, now! 6 months!
  • Gravel: Soldiers died in vain in Vietnam. Dying in vain, now. Major close up on Gravel. He’s mad.
  • Obama: Soldiers doing everything asked of them. Not dying in vain because serving their country.
  • Edwards: Never die in vain. put the heat on Bush.

Women register for draft?

  • Dodd: sure. Recommends required selective service.
  • Obama: Tuskegee Airmen. equates Women with African American soldiers.

Arab states do not respect women. How is Clinton to be taken seriously. (Stupid softball questions for Hillary).

  • Clinton: First Lady laundry list. No doubt in anyone’s mind. Germany, Chile, Liberia. Very appropriate for woman to represent U.S.

Meet with Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea?

  • Obama: Yes. Not meeting with them doesn’t hurt them.
  • Hillary: back to diplomacy. High level Presidential envoys. Why meet with them until we know what the way forward is?
  • Edwards: Restore American confidence.

By what date out of Iraq? How many family members do you have in Iraq (relevance?) ?

  • Dodd: April of next year. January of 2009 all out.
  • Richardson: 6 months and no residual forces. {This guy was ambassador to the UN?}
  • Biden: lambasts Senators who voted against funding of equipment to prevent deaths from IEDs. As long as they’re in the field, they need the right equipment. {Thank you, Joe}.
  • Clinton: same realistic view. Maybe 1 or 2 brigades a month. That’s a lot of months.
  • Kucinich: {completely ignoring reality.} Text him and they’ll magically be able to bring them home…like immediately.

Education: Who was your favorite teacher?

  • Gravel: teacher who recognized his learning disabilities.
  • Obama: someone who had also been to kenya and made him feel proud of his International experience.
  • Biden: (Unintelligible–sound quality).
  • Edwards: teacher that believed boy from mill could make something of himself

NO child left behind–Scrap or Salvage?:

  • Richardson: takes funds away that aren’t doing well. 40,000 a year minimum pay, art, dance, etc.
  • Biden: voted for it because of Ted Kennedy, but now feels it needs to me scrapped. Smaller classrooms, better teachers.

Would you send your kids to private school?

Edwards: two kids in public school.
HIllary: tough decision to send Chelsea. {WHAT? Her dad was the fricking President. Why was it a tough decision?}
Gravel: need a little competition in public schools. Not sure whether he’s talking about vouchers or what.
Dodd: accountability in schools is important.

Planned Parenthood. Sex Education.

  • Edwards: “inappropriate touching”
  • Obama: echoes Edwards. Some parents don’t take responsibility, though (so of course schools should)

Does the Al Gore question hurt your feelings?

Global Warming?

  • Kucinich: Away from reliance on oil. Connects foreign policy and energy.

Alternative energies?

  • Gravel: Change our tax structure. Tax spending.
  • Dodd: 50 mile/gallon by 2017…Corporate carbon tax?
  • Cooper asks who flew Private jets to the debate. Almost everyone raises their hand. Kucinich and Gravel did not.

Global Warming? Nuclear power?

  • Edwards: very costly.
  • Obama: no silver bullet. national interests ahead of special interests.
  • Clinton: taking money away from oil companies and setting up a special fund.

Standardizing voting policies?

  • Richardson: paper trails…50% turnout unacceptable. Get the Republican party to stop suppressing minority vote.

Will you work for Minimum wage?

  • Clinton: sure.
  • Everyone else: Raise minimum wage.
  • Obama: we all have money. Of course we could do it. (A little stab at Romney).

Social Security–raise contributing salary above 90,000?:

  • Dodd: no privatization
  • Richardson: 401k universal pension. Bipartisan.

Taxes?

  • Biden: Change the tax structure. More progresive of course. “We need more revenue.” (Shivers go down my spine.)
  • Kucinich: no wars, no NAFTA. No more taxes.

Alzheimers? Diabetes? Preventative medicine? Health Insurance?

  • Obama: not mandating coverage, but giving all opportunities. Obama says he’s gonna fight drug and insurance companies.
  • Edwards: must be mandated. Cleft pallate story. When are we gonna DO something about it. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT.
  • Clinton: Universal Health Care is an American value.

Health Care coverage for undocumented workers?

  • Dodd: Yes
  • Richardson: yes, and prevention is crucial.

Bush Clinton, Bush….Clinton?

  • Clinton: sure
  • Gravel: Wall Street money
  • Obama: uniting, changing, fighting.

In God we trust?

  • Biden: deep religious beliefs and ability to use reason are not mutually exclusive (great point).
  • Edwards: Never will I impose my religious beliefs on the American people.

Atheist…concerns over pandering to evangelical vote.

  • Obama: faith informs what I do.

Guns:

  • Richardson: mental imbalanced and criminal
  • Biden: Assault weapons ban.

Overall impressions of each candidate:

Clinton: very on key. Very studied. Very polished. Looked, acted, and spoke the part.
Obama: thoughtful, usually very “audaciously hopeful”, but managed to pick up a little too much of Edwards’ vibe.
Dodd: Nothing really stands out.
Gravel–just mad.
Kucinich–very happy. Very proud of his “text for peace” deal. Acted like a kid.
Biden–Seems like the Ron Paul, just looking around trying to figure out why everyone has gone so crazy.
Edwards–Fight. I’m a fighter. I’ve fought Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Grape. FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Richardson–Seemed to ramble. Incomprehensible on Iraq. Definitely didn’t come across as a former UN Rep.

Conclusions: Look everyone knows that I disagree with 90% of everything all these chumps say, so I’ll do the best I can. In my opinion, there are only three people on the stage that really make any sense: Obama, Hillary, and Biden. The others (in my right-wing-nut-job view) are just clowns. Edwards is the most disturbing to me, not because he’s the most nutty, but because he’s nutty and has such a broad-based appeal.

Hillary, as much as I’d love to simply look at her ideas and not who she is, it becomes really hard to do when I hate all of her ideas. Obama, I really want to believe is what he’d like us to believe he is–new blood, reasonable, empathetic to the conservative view, hopeful. It’s hard to believe that, though, when most of his recent speeches are very familiar boiler-plate liberal rhetoric.

Biden is my favorite on the stage. When he talks about foreign policy, he knows what he’s talking about. If I had to vote for one of them, it would be him. I think he’s wrong on a lot of things, but I wouldn’t be scared at night knowing he was Commander-in-Chief. His domestic politics is predictably not in line with mine (“tax cuts to the top 1%”, “need more revenue”, etc.), but I could live with that if I knew he would not just start throwing our troops around. I’m aware he’s not always on this target, and guilty of petty party politics and grandstanding to Pentagon interviewees he most definitely is. But at least he speaks English.

But he doesn’t have much of a shot…I know. But can you imagine a Hunter/Biden runoff? Or a Huckabee/Obama?

Sadly, at this point, I’d put my money (if not necessarily my vote) on a Hillary/Rudy runoff.

Back to the debate, it was very disappointing that very little attention went to:

  • Immigration
  • War on Terror (or whatever it’s supposed to be called)
  • Iran
  • Taxes
  • National Debt

Truthfully, even the issues that were discussed were not discussed substantively. It’s not hard to figure out why, though…

Number one: very few serious questions were asked from the conservative point of view. The tax question was asked with a song, and the gun question was asked by someone who called his assault rifle his “baby.” The liberal position did not need to be defended, argued, or questioned. Many things were taken as gospel truth from the get-go: A military victory in Iraq is impossible; Universal Health Care is obviously to answer to the Health Care; Global Warming was so obvious it was barely discussed.

Number two: it’s the challenging party, so a lot of time can be spent bashing the incumbent without requiring too much bashing each other, or arguing your point.

I made it through it, though…the whole gruelling 120 minutes. Give me a fricking medal.

Dodd expresses everyone’s frustration with the debates

In an attempt to remember to watch the Democratic Presidential debates tonight, I wanted to point to this article about Dodd’s dissatisfaction with the debate format.

Tonight is the first Democratic National Committee-sanctioned debate in Charleston, SC. After watching a few of these debates, I have to agree with Mr. Dodd wholeheartedly on this:

“They’re not even debates. You get 30 seconds to answer a question. It’s insulting to the audience,” Dodd said to a Des Moines Register reporter following a stop Saturday night at Ritual Cafe in downtown Des Moines. “If you have a 30 second answer on these issue, you have no business running for the presidency, or ever being elected.”

“It’s not terribly enlightening. It’s like throwing bumper stickers out – who gets an applause line. As if somehow that’s an informative discussion for the American people to draw better conclusions for who these people are,” Dodd said. “It demeans the office of the presidency, it minimizes the office – you look like a bunch of third graders.”

Of course the interesting thing about the debate is the fact that YouTube (a Google company, of course) is helping sponsor the debate by letting YouTube users submit questions over video. The L.A. Times talks about this question posed by one of these said users:

Sen. Clinton, I think you would make a great president. But there’s a question that deserves to be answered before the end of the primaries, because it could affect your ability to run against a strong Republican: Has your husband, Bill Clinton, engaged in adulterous behavior since he’s left office?

Wow…I’m sure that one will make the cut. Although, I’m not an Anderson Cooper fan (by a LONG-shot) I promise I will do my best to make it all the way through the debate and offer commentary.

DesMoinesRegister.com