Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fireside Chat: Q&A

So the title is making fun of myself for doing this at all, but I thought that I would put in one last plug about the upcoming election. Rather than get bogged down in increasingly boring and legalistic paragraphs, I thought I would just try to keep it super simple. Hence the Q&A format. I selected some questions I have most frequently encountered in my blog reading or conversations with others.

Q: Who should I vote for?
A: John McCain

OK, that was a joke intended to prepare you for my personal perspective. Join me by the fire, won't you?

Q: I am against abortion, but why should my vote be influenced by my pro-life stance when it doesn't seem as if the President has much to say about abortion anyway? I mean, here we are after 8 years with Bush and abortion law has not changed a bit!

A: The President appoints the judges who will determine whether abortion violates the Constitution and whether any attempt to place restrictions on abortion (like parental notification for minors, parental consent, partial birth or late term) are constitutional. The next Pres will appoint probably 2 justices to the SCt. Who is appointed will change everything.

Obama himself is so radically pro-abortion that he voted against, and delivered an ardent speech against, legislation in Illinois seeking to grant legal recognition and protection to babies born ALIVE after their mothers attempted to abort them.
Do you want a judge who will read the Constitution as protecting unborn life they way Obama reads it? The extent to which abortion law can change depends heavily on the judges reigning on the federal bench.

Q: I may be pro-life, but I still think that there should be exceptions. I don't want judges taking away the right to choose.

A: Fortunately, the beauty of the democratic system is that people can craft legislation through their elected representatives. This legislation can draw rather arbitrary lines around what people feel comfortable with allowing and what they don't. They need not, as with legal rules, be followed through their logical conclusion. If the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was not a constitutional right, that does not mean that abortion would now be illegal. It means that states would be able to create their own abortion law. How likely is it that California, Massachusetts, Vermont etc would outlaw abortion? In Utah, people would probably ban it in all but extreme life-of-the-mother or rape cases. It is not reasonable to fear the dungeon abortion scenario.

Q: I thought you said your answers would be quick and simple. How do you explain your over-abundance in the paragraphs above?
A: A poor filter. I will try to do better but am too lazy to go back and cut.

Q: I want to get out of Iraq right now! Why are we even there?

A: First of all, even Obama does not want to get out of Iraq right now. We are there because we had credible intelligence, believed by almost every reliable intelligence-gathering source in the world, to the effect that Iraq was developing WMDs. Based on this intelligence the (Democrat appointee) head of the CIA provided, Bush proposed invading. Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry and most other representatives, lib or conservative, voted to engage. They did so because they were afraid that a nuclear weapon in Sadam's hands was a major national security threat.

Q: But not Obama!
A: Right, because he was not a U.S. Senator then (2002).

Q: What about the fact that I Have More Foreign Policy Experience Than Sarah Palin? Plus, everyone who went to Yale and Harvard says she is dumb, and so does the press!

A: Sarah Palin has more executive experience than Obama, and she is only running as VP. But further, it is important to evaluate whether she represents the morals and philosophy you believe in. Also, to steal from a very clever article on the subject, Sarah Palin may not know as much about the world as Biden, but at least most of what she knows is true. Click here to read more about Biden's fantasy world and the difference in how the media has treated these two VP nominees.

Q: We need healthcare reform. Isn't Obama's plan a great one?

A: 40 Acres and a Mule. First of all, Obama has not defined how he would pay for socialized medicine. He wants to create a government-run healthcare center. The problem here is that doing this would be tremendously expensive, both to provide and to administer. Where is that money going to come from?

Also, the government would determine what the benefits would be and what the rates would be. Abortion could be a covered benefit (allowing, for the first time, federal funds to be used for abortion). McCain would provide the same care by providing a tax credit, but doing so through the private sector. Essentially, under McCain's plan, the government would give the individual money to find insurance for himself.

Q: Obama is going to cut taxes on 95% of Americans, and those of us who earn under $43,000 are actually going to be getting a check in the mail! Sounds good to me!

A: There are 3 answers. First, Obama's claims are misleading. It isn't really correct to identify what he proposes as a tax cut on 95% since 40% of already don't pay taxes at all anyway. People who don't pay taxes will be getting a tax credit. This is not a tax break, it is a welfare payment.

Still sounds good, doesn't it? It does to Idealistic Me, too--I would like to give lots of money to everyone. But this plan is taking money from the job-creators and mailing it to people who don't even pay in the first place. (Q: But companies are bad and exploit me!) Tax hikes on them drive them overseas which then leads to joblessness here and increased prices for goods. Also, companies important to our energy or medical industries slow or halt their exploration and development etc.

The second objection can be summed up with the "40 Acres and a Mule" again. The short answer is Budget Deficits. We cannot continue to spend half a trillion dollars more than we take in without severe long term economic consequences. The real problem is that we have been running tremendous budget deficits, and what has happened from these deficits is the Frannie and Freddie fiasco. We can no longer continue to spend more than we take in. Obama's plan leads to even more budget deficits.

The third objection is that what he lowers in the form of income tax, he raises on other taxes that contribute to people's real incomes. Under his plan, everyone will be paying social security taxes on your total salary. Factor in the increases on capital gains taxes, which taxes everyone who has money invested (everyone).

Q: Obama is "going to save the world" with his new environmental policy that will get us off foreign oil!

A: Obama is so beholden to environmental groups that his policy is going to be extravagently expensive.

In one example, he is in favor of burning food (corn) to create fuel, while people around the world are starving. Want to know why milk is expensive these days? Cows eat corn, which is now more expensive because of this ridiculous measure.

Obama wants to cut coal and nuclear energy in favor of wind and solar power. The cost of creating energy through wind power is twice what it is through coal and over twice than for nuclear. Unfortunately, the wind isnt blowing everywhere consistently in throughout our country. So long as you dont mind seeing your electric bills double, it should be a good plan.

The principle of getting off foreign oil is sound and important, but there are more economically advisable strategies that need to be emloyed during the transition period. For example, we do need to drill in Alaska. While we should use solar and wind where economically efeasible, we also need to use clean coal and nuclear energy.

Ok, so our chat was over-long, but I sure got toasty by this fire.

There are many policies on the table in this election, but at the end of the day, I just have one thought: economic downturns and upswings come and go; environmental strategies will surface and disappear; healthcare and taxes change and change again.

But the legacies that flow from who is appointed to the federal bench, particularly the SCt, will rule our social policy down into the lifetimes of our grandchildren. These legacies will come in the form of our current social policy debates on basic moral values like abortion and same sex marriage. Do you want judges, unaccountable to any of us, deciding those for you and your children and grandchildren, for generations? Judges appointed by someone like Obama, who has such a radical view of abortion rights that he that he doesnt think babies born alive after a botched abortion attempt deserve legal protection, and who is in favor of same sex marriage?

It is not just about preserving the rights I think are important, but about preserving the right to be part of the democratic process that decides our laws. Judicial activism in the courts is taking that away. Abortion and marriage should be decided by you and me, through our legislature, not by judges who want to impose their social views upon the minority in the form of "constitutional rights."

I also fear for our national security. I wish that simply talking to foreign leaders who hate this country could keep us safe, but I do not believe that to be the case. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan provided two cases studies in how the Soviet menace responded to wishy-washy diplomacy v. a strong military threat headed by a man who was not afraid to back down. But we didn't talk very much about that important subject in our chat, did we? I suppose I will ahve to suffice it to say that John McCain favored military strategies (ie the surge) that undeniably worked, while Obama had to eat his words on the subject. He has wandered from one edge of opposition to our involvement in Iraq to basically copying McCain's stance when it was just too embarrassing to be proven so wrong. My only hope is that he is pragmatic enough to continue in that vein.

Goodnight, America, all five or six of you who have read this far. Forgive my excesses, particularly since I freely admit them. :)


terrah said...

Thanks Alexandra... you've done a great job. You're really a gifted writer.

I found your link off of Paul's blog and have enjoyed lurking. I hope that's not too weird. If you happen to want to see mine, just send me your email address... terrahjanathotmaildotcom

Tat said...

1) I think just the fact that people are lining up to vote early and talking about these issues in record numbers and depth is cause for celebration. So, thank you, once again, for adding to the free flow of information.

2) I just realized that the Derr family on your blog list is the son of Brook and Jill Derr, dear friends of ours from Alpine. It's such a small world.

Monica Merced Rich said...

I take issue with the term pro-abortion. That's as far as I got in your post. :)

Monica Merced Rich said...

Ok, I finished reading. And, I love you Allie, but this post made me mad! You left a lot of gaping holes. I probably shouldn't leave comments like this, huh. I couldn't help myself. Let me think of something positive to say...hmm...your kids are cute :)

Alexandra said...

Hey Monica, Don't feel bad! Critique away!

Alexandra said...

Re Pro=Abortion: I do not think that Obama wants people to get abortions instead of using birth control etc. I just mean that he is in favor of abortive rights. I wasn't trying to pull a fast one on that (the way pro-lifers are called anti-abortion or anti-choice). Rhetoric.

Monica Merced Rich said...

Ok, so for starters. Health Care. Obama would not create a "Government Health Care Center", but rather create a government health plan for the uninsured (who make up 47 million in the US). He would require employers (though not small businesses) to offer coverage to their employees or pay a payroll tax to cover the uninsured. And he would ensure coverage without discrimination based on health or age. You left out the part of McCain's plan where, if you are happy with your employer-based insurance and choose to keep it, you (the individual) will be taxed for its value as compensation. So health insurance is seen as salary, not a right. Sure, he offers a tax credit -- but it's not enough to cover an average employee's out of pocket expense. I know it wouldn't cover ours.

Carolina said...

I have many questions, but the most important is this: What is the 40 acres and a mule thing? Am I culturally ignorant? Never heard that statement before.

Monica Merced Rich said...

To the previous commenter:

Troy and Nancee said...

You pretty much summed up why we are voting for McCain. We can't for the life of us figure out why any middle class American would want to vote for Obama.

Alexandra said...

Brig and I have the health insurance plan that Senator Obama is proposing to offer to everyone who wants it. It is a very generous plan and a very expensive plan. It costs us about $200 per month and the gov't (the taxpayers) about $800 per month.

At about $10,000 per year per family, the cost is going to be extraordinarily high and that is the main reason that it has not been done in the past. Our country running a tremedous budget deficit and with the proposed tax cuts it will be even higher. Cost alone is a big reason to oppose it.

But it is also a "one-size fits all" program that is set up by the government. The government decides what is covered and what is not. We all pay the same whether we need all the benefits or not (for example, drug rehab, abortion, etc).

The McCain plan allows each person and family to choose the policy that best fits the individual family needs, and then provides $5,000 to pay for it. The family is free to choose the type of policy that they need e.g. higher dental benefits, lower drug rehab benefits.

If McCain wanted to get into a bidding contest for who could buy the most votes by promising the greatest benefits, then he should have doubled the tax credit to $10,000 per year and the costs to the taxpayer would have been the same as Obama's plan, but people would have been free to choose the coverage they wanted , rather than that dictated by the Fed gov't.

It was probably a political mistake to be fiscally responsible and to offer only $5000 because most people no longer are saying "Ask not what your county can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

All the money the gov't spends ultimately has to come from the taxpayers. Our country currently has a debt of over $10 trillion on the books and over $100 trillion additional owed to current Social Security recipients. Our entire budget for all govt is about $2 trillion per year.

So our national debt will grow by .5 trillion just for health care.

Some day someone will have to pay that debt and that someone will be us.

Alexandra said...

I forgot to mention: the reason that everyone will get on the govt health plan instead of staying with their current provider is that the fed govt program is the best insurance available. Why wouldn't everyone switch to it? They would; they will.

Jacqueline Auna and family said...

Wow! I think reading your post and the comments will take me hours to read and process. Good thing I've got all night, and I've already made up my mind. : ) I enjoyed reading all the information and perspective you offered endorsing McCain, it made me more confident in my choice. The abortion issue is hard for me to get past.

katie said...

Well done, Toby! I wish I could forward this to all the people I know who are still "undecided" in this election. I think it would help them to really understand what is at stake and cast an informed vote.

Alexandra said...

I feel that I want to add a comment about our national security, bc at the end of teh day, this is what I believe is most important in this election.

Regarding foreign policy. Obama said last year that the surge of troops would not work and that it would be counter-productive. It has been undeniably (even by Obama) a tremendous sucess. So on the most important foreign policy issue facing America he was completely wrong.

He said last year that he would withdraw all U.S. troops immediately, which he now recognizes as a tremendous error, because he now says we should withdraw them "responsibly" over the course of 2009 and maybe 2010, two or three years later than his original decision.

And for all those who would never fight because war is terrible, Obama is proposing to send more troops to Afganistan. I agree completely with his decision to send them there, but it makes the argument that wars are so awful that we should never fight them a really ridiculous proposition.

Wars are terrible, but sometimes the consequences of not fighting them are worse. Who would like to be ruled by Hitler or Stalin or suffer another 9-11 attack with nuclear weapons?

Senators Biden , Clinton and Kerry all voted for the invasion of Iraq because all of the major power intelligence agencies in the world believed Irag was developing nuclear weapons. Saddam had expelled the UN inspectors and the UN passed a Resolution demanding the inspectors be allowed back into Iraq, but Saddam refused to allow them back in.

Immediately before the invasion, George Tenant, the Clinton appointed Director of the of the U.S. CIA, said it was a "Slam dunk that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction". Senators Clinton, Biden and Kerry all voted for it because it was the responsible thing to do (read their well reasoned speeches supporting the invasion on the Senate floor for a good explanation of why it was important that Iraq not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. The reasoning mostly centered on the very real danger that Saddam would use them agaist us or our allies himself or that he would give them to terrorists for that same purpose.

Senators Biden, Clinton and Kerry understood and appropriately responded to the danger of Saddam having nuclear weapons by voting for the invasion.

Obama misjudged that danger in pretty much the same way he misjudged the surge.

The world has evil men in it who only respond to force. I am grateful that Obama reconizes that danger now in Afganistan and wants to send more troops there, but note that he recognized it AFTER 9-11, when it was too late to prevent it.

Can we afford to have a President who acts only AFTER we are attacked when there are nuclear weapons involved?

Jessica and Matt said...

Thanks for these insightful posts and comments. Just yesterday I was remarking to some friends that Obama's ideas sound really good and he articulates them eloquently -- my friends agreed.

After reading this blog, I began looking more closely at Obama's record -- what he has done and how he has voted: he was wrong on the most important foreign policy issue facing our nation (the surge), he is wrong on gay marriage (in clear opposition to the moral principles of our and other Christain Churches), he went beyond the standard "pro-choice" position when he voted 4 times to deny a baby, born-alive, to the healthcare to which any human being is entitled -- thereby adopting a stance that was rejected as too extreme by every other democrat in the U.S. Senate.

Obama's healthcare plan -- when you really look at it-- is so unrealistic that it would be a financial catastrophe, and when our country is running a deficit of historic proportions he could not site a single area in which he would reduce spending (when asked that direct question during the first debate).

Those friends who agreed that Obama and his ideas sound good, believe as I do that abortion is wrong, gay marriage is wrong, sound national security policies are important, and federal spending is sending our economy in the wrong direction. The vast distance between my friends' views and Obama's position on these issues is shocking -- how can they find him so appealing?
To all my friends, please look past the "nice sounding" rhetoric and look at the issues -- this election is critical. Vote for what is right rather than what is "cool".

Monica Merced Rich said...

Oh, Allie. I wish I had your passion and energy and drive. You must be a spectacular lawyer. I knew you would be ever since sophomore year when you called the office of our apartment complex in Provo and argued the scary manager lady into a corner, forcing them to clean the carpets in your apartment. Do you remember that? I would love to see you in a courtroom.

And I wish we could have sat down and talked about all of these issues in person; I think we would find that we disagree less than we think we do. As it stands, the election is tomorrow and you and I can take comfort in knowing our votes will cancel one another's out :) Frankly, I'll just be happy to have a new president.

Monica Merced Rich said...

One last thing...

As Adam and I discussed today, Fireside Chats were what FDR instituted to educate Americans about the economy and solidify support for the New Deal. They are a legacy of the Democratic Party. So maybe, deep down somewhere inside, there is a spark of democrat in you :)

Ashley said...

You are funny, and smart, and I completely agree with everything you said. I have already mailed my ballot voting against Obama but after reading this I wish I could vote against him again. (Because I can't say I love McCain.)

I am hoping that Nader makes a good showing tomorrow. Like, 5 or 6 percent.