That about sums it up.

That about sums it up.

After Bible study the other night a group of us headed over to Travis and Nicole's house, as is our wont. We got talking about the forthcoming presidential election, as is popular of late, and I remarked that the situation reminded me of the ad for the Alien vs. Predator movie: "Whoever wins, we lose." It never occurred to me that someone HADN'T done up a picture based on that premise, but I haven't been able to find one. Travis was up to the challenge, however, and I am indebted, since I have exactly zero Photoshop skills.

It's funny only because it's true. On our calendar at work, November 4 shows "Election Day." November 5's caption is "Drink heavily and cry a little."


PS - There's an image attached, for those of you using a reader.



It almost looks like McCain's head was severed by Obama instead of replacing the head of the Alien. :-)

Are politicians really that bad?

Honestly, though... it's been rather vogue, especially in this season, to proclaim an erudite dislike of all candidates, and an overall distaste for politics, etc.

But is that in any wise a sensible stance?

I *could* talk about how great ham is, but how I dislike all pig farmers because they're covered in mud... but all that actually would show is that I have no idea how pigs are farmed.

There will never be a politician with whom you or I absolutely agree. Even if I ran for president and - in an apparent fit of mass delusion - was elected, even then I wouldn't agree with all the decisions I had to make, because the nature of our political system is such that all voices have at least some influence, and I would at least occasionally have to make compromises and let certain things I want slide in favor of things I want more.

Many people view this as a disgusting and corrupt process, but truthfully I think it's a good thing. All that politicking assures that everyone has at least some influence. Take that away, and all you have is two wolves and a sheep deciding on dinner.


I most definitely do not have a dislike of all politicians. I am not overly fond of either of the major presidential candidates, however; in neither case do I think that the best candidate from the field was selected, nor do I think either would be a particularly good president. This does not mean, nor do I intend to imply by the picture, that I think either candidate should be hunted to the death for sport or be used for live fodder such that gestating extraterrestrial spawn burst out of their chest.

The best case scenario, from my right-wing guns-and-religion-clinging perspective, is that we get someone with a very spotty record of supposed conservatism trying to mend fences with an insanely hostile Congress, which, if we're lucky, won't have a supermajority in the Senate able to override the opposition party at will. My greatest hope is that the next Congress will be as ineffectual as the current one.

The very real risk is that we will have a Congress and Executive that won't have to compromise--at least much--and they together will fill the hundreds of vacant Judicial appointments that Democrats have prevented from being filled for the last few years. We've had this sort of lineup before--it brought about the largest increase in size and power of the federal government in history, up until the recent silliness that was managed even without such congruence of thought.

I think this is a bad thing. I recognize that you might very well not, considering that our political leanings are drastically different, but you'll understand if I'm less than thrilled with the impending state of affairs.


I've just had quite enough

I've just had quite enough of the "Oh, it doesn't matter, all politicians are corrupt anyway" and "Well, *I* don't like either candidate", and I'm heartily sick of that attitude. I don't mean to say that you are necessarily of that attitude, just that the graphic you posted is.

I see where you're coming from - gods know, we had enough trouble with a Republican-controlled Executive and a Republican-controlled Legislative branch. However, I don't think the Democrats will get a sweeping majority in either the House or the Senate, and even if they did, I have faith in the Democratic party's ability to be as disorganized as ever.

Not all the same

We have a clear choice this election between going to hell in a handbasket or via express train.


I'm pretty sure neither one is heading there.

There's the thing - I don't think that's true. I think that both candidates honestly want to do what's best for America, that both truly have good intentions and that realistically they both have pretty good ideas about how to do it. It's just that they have somewhat different methods for doing so, and more importantly that they are attempting to appeal to very different voter bases in order to accomplish roughly the same goals.

Learning from History

I'm sure every presidential candidate in history had good intentions for this country. It's just a matter of whether those good intentions will keep our Constitution sound, our laws protected, and our way of life intact. At least one of the candidates has openly admitted to a socialist point of view (although I'm sure he didn't mean to, so now the person he admitted it to is being castigated by his followers, instead of him – fascist much?). There are many other countries that have tested and been proven worse off for their socialistic policies – and yet, there are thousands of Americans who want to make our country just like them!

We've already seen that if you are in direct opposition to (or even somewhat in disagreement with) Obama and his family/followers/endorsers/servants/sycophants, you are lower than dirt, worthy of destruction, and fair game for any inhumane treatment they can think up. I'm not exaggerating. And he's only a candidate! Imagine if he became president, and anyone dared speak out against him (as the first amendment is supposed to allow)!

I haven't seen anything from the McCain campaign that distorts and destroys his opposition so thoroughly as in Obama's. Yes, there has been some "negativity", but much of it has been truth – and, as we can see, the truth hurts. There is nothing wrong with unveiling the dishonest, crooked things your opponent has done in the past, and hold him responsible. If McCain had crooked ties in his past, I'd want him to admit to it and at least say he'd made a mistake – not lie about it and then try to backpeddle to say he'd denounced them, after he'd said he couldn't denounce them any more than he could his own family.

Many of McCain's ideas aren't the greatest for our country, but at least he has some idea of what our country has been about historically, and should continue to be. Obama wants to change us fundamentally. He wants to turn us into Canada or Europe. He looks down on simpler Americans who do the dirty work in this country. He tries to be everything for everybody – and our enemies will see that and work it to their own ends.

We might have slightly higher taxes under McCain (because he still believes in Global Warming and I'm sure will pour money into that), but we will be taxed to death under Obama, and our Constitution and Bill of Rights will be nothing more to him than a dry old history book.

So yes, there IS a difference between them. A vast chasm of difference. And I wish more people could see it.

Seeing the difference

Seeing the difference doesn't mean agreeing with you. That's really one of the most irksome points - there are those, a most vocal group of people, I fear, who just plain don't get the idea that there are people who, given the same set of information, just plain don't come to the same conclusion.

Honestly, whenever I find a commentary calling Obama a "socialist", I stop reading it. I was alive during the 80s. I can tell the difference between socialism and a concept of government regulation, and I abhor the misuse of the term, and it's being used as a senseless perjorative simply due to not liking (what some have interpreted as being) another's policy. I've heard the term applied to every candidate who is not straight up libertarian, and the usage bores me.

The rest, is... well, somewhere between hyperbole and outright falsehood, and that too bores me.

Honestly, the election coming up isn't really about the candidates. Neither man, as president, will have anything like the power their supporters desire. They are held in check by the web of politics which exists for that very purpose.

In a very large way, the election is about cultural views. Very simply, speaking from the left, I don't feel the right wants there to be room in America for people like me. I see people who don't understand or respect that there are people who just plain don't agree with them. And since America is fundamentally about disparate people being able to work together, I cannot - as a conscientious American - possibly support the candidate that such people support.

Socialism--not just a pejorative any more

I recognize that you come from a very different perspective. And you're welcome to it. But what Senator Obama claims he wants and what he has historically supported are very different things. When you read a quote and you can't immediately tell whether it's Senator Obama or Karl Marx, you can make a fair case for socialism, which has a definition and is not just a name being thrown around. Are there alarmists on the right? Yes, absolutely. Does that mean that you should discount everything they say? I don't. You may, of course, do what you like, including dismissing their arguments as between hyperbole and falsehood. Read his own speech transcripts, and read up on socialism, redistribution of wealth, social justice, and make your own call. If you honestly believe that's what would be best for America--in other words, if you plain come to a different conclusion--then more power to you, but don't try to tell me that the candidates are offering the same thing.

I don't particularly want McCain, but I honestly believe he is the least worst option for President. It's less academic for me than it is for you; "commander in chief" is not just a phrase, but a specific legal relationship for some of us.


You'd be surprised - nay,

You'd be surprised - nay, shocked - at what selected works of various well-known persons could be confused, if read without context. that's neither interesting nor useful.

I am strongly annoyed by the usage of "socialist, both as pejorative, and as heinously misapplied to so incredibly many politicians. It's use betrays to me an overall naivety about economy (hint: "pure" capitalism is just as bad as, if not worse than, "pure" socialism; nothing is so great it can't be done improperly), and does indeed indicate to me that the writer can be discounted - they don't know what they're talking about.

I don't say they're offering the same thing. I think that McCain's views seem to imply a greater adherence to the notions of laissez-faire economics and trickle-down theories, though not slavishly so, and that Obama favors more government regulation and support, but again not slavishly so. Economically, I'm seeing different preferences but not huge gulfs. I would point out, however, that Obama does seem to have more solid economic credentials than McCain, but take of that what you will.
All that said, neither Obama nor McCain could, in my opinion, be considered anything like socialists, and it irks me to see it bandied about. That it's a term which has been applied to nearly every politician in the past 20 years, and basically means "person who is more liberal than I am" to me kills the credibility of anyone who would call another a socialist.

I counter to you that I am highly unconvinced that Obama will not make a credible Commander in Chief. Clearly, there are no few people, even higher up in the military, who are comfortable with him in that role.

And, of course, the remaining point is that I beseech you to consider that the civil rights issues are as unacademic to me as the "commander in chief" issue is for you.

Fine, "handheld earth motivator"--but it's still a damned spade.

Various other people agree with you that the label "socialist" is not useful, if for entirely different reasons. Still, to automatically tune out of the conversation whenever you hear a word is like invoking Godwin's Law when discussing neo-Nazism--occasionally, a word fits.

(And please leave the straw man out of it--I never implied anywhere that I thought pure capitalism was either where we were nor where we should be.)

So let's define what Obama is, if not a socialist. He is in favor of the movement of wealth from those that make it to those that don't--but we can't call it "distribution of wealth." He wants to give "tax cuts" to people who don't pay income tax, such that these people actually make money from the federal government--but we can't call it "welfare." Despite having seen government regulation radically increase the burden and cost of health care in this country over the last few decades, he would like to compel coverage via government-administered programs--but we can't call it "socialized medicine." These are not small things, nor are they (as you stated previously) trying "to accomplish roughly the same goals."

Incidentally, I think both of their plans for mortgage and credit reform are idiotic. When the supposed conservative candidate proposes tossing out the whole concept of contract law to nullify "bad" mortgages and forcibly set new terms for repayment on a private financial agreement between two willing (if not overly wise) parties, it's time to break out the white lightning. I've written elsewhere, and linked even more, about the various other things in his platform (both stated and unstated) that bother me greatly, so I won't belabor the point here. I believe he wants to fundamentally rearrange this nation, and I believe it's a change that I can do without. If these changes are more in line with your vision for America, more power to you, and by all means vote for hope and change.

I see people who don't understand or respect that there are people who just plain don't agree with them.

Yes, I see quite a bit of that, myself. Seems like there are some civil rights issues to be resolved, all right.

I would love clarification on what the impact of the Presidential choice would be on civil rights--are you referring to nomination of Supreme Court Justices? That's the only link I can think of, and I can't imagine that an ultraconservative John McCain presidency (if such a thing were to exist) could somehow get enough Justices past the Senate to magically overturn the Civil Rights Act or something, so you must mean something else. Whether such a President can or would affect your civil rights in a negative manner is an interesting topic for speculation, but he will be the head of my chain of command.

I have a sneaking suspicion there isn't going to be a lot of common ground found in this conversation, though I trust we will avoid Godwin. I appreciate your civil responses. If the worst thing I've done is bore you, I can live with that--the Internet is big, and I haven't lured you here under false pretenses or anything.


A spade *is* a spade. And

A spade *is* a spade. And there's no real difference between the use of "socialist" now, versus "commie" back in the 80s, or "nazi sympathizer" in the 40s. I can't think of a major Democratic candidate who hasn't been accused of being a socialist - hell, I think most of the Republicans have, too. I ignore it because it's a meaningless, valueless attack.

Is Obama in favor of "the movement of wealth from those that make it to those that don't" (your words)?
Well, not exactly. He has called for greater taxes to be paid by people with more money - I expect you're familiar with the basic concepts of progressive taxation, so I won't beat that into the ground. But that is, in fact "spreading the wealth around". Granted not everyone likes progressive taxes, but they do work, and calling it socialism is rather a stretch.

Of course, in point of fact, he's not calling for the curve to be made all that much steeper:
Families making more than $250,000 will pay either the same or lower tax rates than they paid in
the 1990s. Obama will ask the wealthiest 2% of families to give back a portion of the taxes they have
received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal
responsibility. But no family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s. In fact,
dividend rates would be 39 percent lower than what President Bush proposed in his 2001 tax cut. - From Obama's tax plan.

Of course, this isn't about the tax plans. I can see arguments that Obama or McCain might have a better idea of what to do with the economy. Obviously I have my preferences, but regardless.
What I object to is the notion that either candidate could be called "socialist". While it hasn't been stated directly, there is an implied dichotomy between socialism and capitalism. In truth, economy is one of the more complex and abstract aspects of public policy, and the various labels which might be applied are really at best loose indicators. Any given policy must be evaluated on its own merits, not based on a silly straw man label.

Beyond which, the label of "socialist" when applied to a politician covers more than simple economics. I can't prove Barack Obama isn't a socialist - but then, I can't prove that McCain isn't, either. However, what I have yet to see is any evidence that either candidate *is* a socialist, either. the best I can see is the tenuous connection that he appears to be generally in favor of equality and social progress.

In terms of the social issues... it's funny, really. You completely miss my point there.
(By the way, your links seriously borked my browser - some of the hosts seem... less than trustworthy)
I'm not referring to secondhand sources here. Let's go straight to the source.
"Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states."

You're right, I'm pretty sure we're not going to see eye-to-eye here.
You likely see this as a states' rights issue. To those in my community, it's a bit more important.

I'm less than sanguine about the states' ability to protect rights
Abortion and Gay marriage deserve special attention here. To me, these issues appear to come up as a result of a particular religious sect wishing to enforce its morality on others - like myself - who do not even vaguely share those beliefs. I do not trust in the states to assure that this does not happen - demonstrably they have failed in the past. Leaving such important matters to the states opens the gates for serious injustices to happen, for people who hate us, to put legal stamp to their misdeeds and gain the ability to directly impose their religious beliefs on us. A president who would make that possible is as culpable as one who would actively support it.

The horse... She is dead.

We'll set aside the whole "socialist" point, then, something that I thought I had done before. I'm not in favor of the super-progressive tax scheme that Senator Obama is calling for; further, I think it's disingenuous to refer to those 2% "giving back" the taxes that they "received," as though the federal government had been very generous by not reaming them quite as hard as it did earlier. I also think that simply pronouncing that such taxes work is glossing over a whole new area of discussion. I think it is morally bankrupt to claim that this is going to be a "fair" system when so many Americans don't pay into it at all. I pay little or no income tax, yet I am hardly "poor"--I have a second refrigerator, just for beer </redneck>. Now is it truly patriotic to pay taxes, as Senator Biden says, or is that only for the rich? The whole tax issue this year smacks of blatant class warfare and is greatly offensive to me.

I did miss your point about civil rights issues because you didn't really make one; you just said that they were as important to you as the CinC issue is to me. I accepted that on its face, but all I could do is guess about what you meant.

I do see it as a state rights issue, but we are basically working back toward a fundamental difference in how we think the government should work. Your argument basically concludes that we need a central government--not a federal government--because the states can't be trusted to do the right thing. I have no doubt that states cannot be necessarily trusted to do the right thing--I could cite examples, but I'm sure you would view many of them as signs of success in government; that's fine, it's a difference of opinion.

The key point, however, is that the Constitution sets up a federal system, in which the power is shared between the federal government and the states. There is a limited number of things that the federal government is allowed to do, and there is a much broader range of things that the states are allowed to do, and there are some things that neither the fed nor the states can do. The states were never intended to be mere administrative divisions between One Big State. Thanks to rogue interpretations of the commerce clause, the federal government has assumed authority over a very wide range of things that have no constitutional basis; education is one of the more ridiculous of these.

Now we can argue whether we are blue in the face about whether we should have an all-powerful central government, but that's not the government that we have on paper. Despite the abuses you have cited (and many more you could have, I'm sure), I would rather have an oppressive state government than an oppressive federal government--because I can pick a different state to live in and still have all of the guarantees and liberties that I enjoy under the Constitution. I'm not by any means an absolute states rightist; as a society, we have come to find additional essential liberties not guaranteed in the original Constitution, whose necessity was such that the federal government had to impose their enforcement upon the states. Many of those are codified in amendments to that same document. What does this prove? By and large, the system works, if slowly and painfully. Do you honestly think that I couldn't find even worse examples of abuse of power by the federal government, cases where federal law is contrary to the stated will of the people of a state? (How do you feel about medical marijuana--legal in WA, as long as you don't get stopped by customs or other federal agents?) Do you really believe that vesting so much power in our historically despised Congress is preferable?

No doubt, if a future Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, there would be some states that immediately made laws restricting abortions. There would also be a lot of states, probably the majority, that would not; it is, after all a "particular religious sect" whose name is taken by many but whose beliefs are shared by relatively few. There would be no laws affecting your ability to move from one to the other, short of a Constitutional amendment. Similarly, as an open sewer grate worshiper, laws in the Evergreen State preventing me from honoring my smelly gods would not prevent me from moving to Wisconsin, where my kind might be more welcome. Contrast this with a central government, in which I have no choice but to live under laws passed under the tyranny of the majority, unless I want to abandon my nation entirely. If the federal government were really as oppressive to religious minorities as you seem to think it is, I cannot understand why you would want to vest more power in it. Is this a particularly ironic moment, where I have more faith in the checks and balances of government than you?



I did not mean to imply that the issue of medical marijuana was of greater import than the civil rights movement; it's just the first example that came to mind of the fed overriding the state, since it came up in conversation yesterday.


I don't get you, really I don't.

So, you're saying that you find the notion of a progressive tax intrinsically unfair?

When you get down to it, there's no taxation scheme - including no taxation at all - that's "fair". Every one of them fails to meet some standard or another. Of course, what makes no sense to me about your stance is that both the Republicans and the Democrats are in support of a progressive tax. Slightly different implementations, but they're still using spaces. And you object to spades. So I'm not sure how you're making a differentiation here.

In terms of the civil rights issue... well, I find it telling that it didn't even occur to you what I was talking about. There's a portion of the population which does not have several basic rights in most states, and may have some of those rights taken away, and this doesn't strike you as a problem?

And, historically, many states DID adopt laws which restricted free movement. For example, from Indiana's constitution, "No Negro or Mulatto shall come into, or settle in, the State, after the adoption of this Constitution."
There have also been (though I apologize, I'm failing to find the reference) laws against bringing girls across state lines for the purpose of teaching.

In this light, it is not an exaggeration to expect similar restrictions on gays, restrictions which would serve to keep gays, or others who aren't of that particular religious subset, from being able to practice everyday freedoms. Unfortunately, those who would seek to restrict the liberty of others don't ever "live and let live".

Now, you've got me on the drug thing. I am in agreement that the federal government is acting in an oppressive fashion there. But, well, if I had to choose between religious freedom and recreational drugs, I'll take religion.
Oh, wait. I *do* have to choose between religious freedom and recreational drugs.

I suppose it depends on what you see as the role of the federal government. I think one of its most important roles is to step in when a state enacts laws to oppress its populace - when a state, for example, violates the US Constitution. We could indeed argue until we're blue in the face about when that occurs. However, I firmly stand by that federal power, and assert further that it is supported by the US Constitution.

Of course, the horse is well dead now - we've both long since voted anyway.

Not sure about the confusion

I do find it immoral (or, if you prefer, unfair) that a large chunk of the population pays nothing at all into our society. There are many people who have no stake in our society except in what it gives them. They have given nothing. They only consume and take advantage of the freedoms and entitlements earned for them by their ancestors and their peers. It's their right under our system. I benefit from the current system, paying little or no income taxes each year; I'll likely do even better under an Obama administration. But that doesn't make it right.

I'm not proposing an absolute flat tax rate; below a certain point, every dollar really does count, and above a certain point, it gets to be rather academic. But If I did find a progressive tax to be intrinsically unfair, why wouldn't I vote for the candidate/party who proposes a less unfair scheme (by my definition)? Did you think I was a Republican?

I can't read your mind. All you said was "civil rights." You could have been talking about just about anything, and I don't read the boards any more so you'll have to excuse me if I'm not familiar with your favored causes. I won't apologize for not intuiting that you were referring to same-sex marriage.

With the notable exception of the CA proposition you linked to, all of those examples have something in common--they are historical, in most cases, because the federal government stepped in. I'm going to quote myself here, because you apparently missed it the first time [emphasis added]:

I'm not by any means an absolute states rightist; as a society, we have come to find additional essential liberties not guaranteed in the original Constitution, whose necessity was such that the federal government had to impose their enforcement upon the states. Many of those are codified in amendments to that same document. What does this prove? By and large, the system works, if slowly and painfully.

The federal government can and does step in to correct abuses at the state level. The solution to current woes is not to cripple the states' ability to self-govern.

The same-sex marriage issue, interestingly enough, may actually be a case where the federal government could make a case for jurisdiction, since all states have to honor marriages made in any other state. Even should it pass, the states are bound by law to respect those marriages which occur in other states.



Not sure what to tell you about the links; they all opened fine for me in FireFox 3.something on WinXP.

The first is an article on the Tribune's politics page about an Obama campaign effort to prevent anyone from calling in to a radio show with a host they didn't much care for. The plain HTML version is here.

The second is from the Huffington Post--which I would frequently consider suspect--about media distortions and exaggerations of supposed McCain "hate rallies." The print version, which should be much easier on a browser, is here.

The third link is Michelle Malkin with a collection of images and videos pointing out the Democrats' hypocrisy in attributing "insane rage" to McCain supporters. The print version is here, though it still contains embedded YouTube videos and the like.

A plain text version of an article discussing Sandra Bernhardt's warning that Sarah Palin would be "gang-raped by [her] big black brothers" if she visits Manhattan can be found here.

The fifth link was one of many blog posts about the media feeding frenzy on "Joe the Plumber" and the bizarre measures taken to discredit his viewpoint on the basis of what was perhaps an overly honest answer by Senator Obama to an honest question. I couldn't find a way to make it any easier to view, but there is no lack of such commentary if you care to look for it.


I just looked over the comments generated off this...

Awesome. Just Awesome. In a Revelation 6 kind of phrasing.

All I really wanted to do was photo shop some heads. And I didn't like either candidate. Still don't even if that's so "last month" and people hate it.

controversial picture = FTW