15 October 2008

That's Absurd! (Mere Blogger Takes on Would-be Leaders of the Free World)

The difference between Monty Python skits and political debates is that Monty Python was trying to be absurd.

It was utterly absurd when McCain and Obama were arguing with each other about who would provide the most in tax cuts. Next year’s deficit is projected to be as much as $1,000 billion (a trillion or a million million) and they are clamoring to cut taxes. Do they really think that we Americans are so stupid that we don’t realize that tax cuts that fuel deficits don’t make us better off? Or are they really that stupid? Can anyone pronounce “credit crisis?”

Obama had the good sense to talk about needed investments. Why Obama did not make more effort to distinguish between government spending and government investment is lost on me. The American people need to be reminded that things like the interstate highway system, the Internet, and the GI Bill were fabulous investments that more than paid for themselves. Today there are even more opportunities for such incredible investments – in everything from biology research and nanotechnology and alternative energy to transforming school systems to educate and train people able to work in such fields. And getting back to deficit spending, it was no coincidence that when deficits became surpluses in the 90s, investment and business formation boomed. Government borrowing squeezes out business borrowing. Can anyone pronounce “credit crisis?”

In an age of globalization, it is ridiculous to talk about ending reliance on foreign oil unless or until we end reliance on oil. The mix of oil we consume through free markets will always pretty much look like the mix of oil on global markets. Can anyone pronounce “credibility crisis?”

One of the odder proposals thrown out by McCain (almost as odd as his defense of the “drill baby drill” chant while claiming to be one of the early defenders of climate change initiatives) was his casual mention of a “troops to teaching” bill that would allow veterans to go right into teaching without needing those (and this said with a grimace) “credentials that they require in some states." So, having worn a uniform somehow exempts a person from the need to meet state teaching standards?

We spend the most per capita on education and health care and we rank near the bottom of the industrialized countries in measures like math and science and infant mortality. Obama’s solution to high expense and poor results in health care is more government. McCain’s solution to high expense and poor results in education is less government. I have no doubt that their plans will work.

Finally, the most absurd thing about the debate was how the first third of this debate seemed to be taken up with accusations and defense of character. This when the American people are watching a slow motion train wreck of America’s financial system, when 86% of Americans think that we’re on the wrong track. McCain seemed not to understand that the American people would be less interested in his hurt feelings than what he proposed to do to get the country back on the right track.

It seems as though McCain missed his opportunity to gain ground on Obama tonight. I am almost beginning to feel sorry for McCain, seeing various polls that suggest Obama led by 8 to 14 percent before the debate and that the percentage of undecided voters who thought he won tonight’s debate is nearly double those who thought McCain had won. But I’d much rather feel sorry for McCain than for the country that has already suffered under 8 years of Republican’s confident and cheery incompetence.

8 comments:

Jennifer H said...

(Those pesky credentials.)

If I disagreed with any of this I would attempt to refudiate some of your points (is there a running list of McCain-isms?).

LSD said...

What the...?

I have finally attained the great heights from where I can see things as you do! (Some things, anyways.) But that is something!

I agree that these debates have taken on an absurd quality. The teams of lawyers have so insulated the candidates from threatening questions and camera angles that they might as well be running for President of some unspecified generic country. We knew ahead of time that McCain was going to go after Obama's character by raising the issues of his past associations and involvements, and sure enough he did. So we measure him by how convincing his attack is and Obama by how he holds up to it. That was the only interesting part of the show; the rest was mostly stuff we have already heard.

Zzzzzz.

I also have been annoyed by the matching 'campaign season' tax plans that seem to promise both tax cuts AND increased spending. Shouldn't they be forced to pick one?

On the domestic oil issue, I also reject the idea that we might choose to opt-out of the global economy, but it seems to me that there are good reasons to rely on domestic sources when you can. The idea that we would not extract more oil domestically due to environmental concerns while buying oil from governments who exercise less concern and practice less careful methodologies demonstrates, I think, a myopic form of global stewardship. It may even be that by tapping our smaller share of this resource we would help to accelerate research and development in the alternative fuel areas. In addition, the idea of sending a little less money to Saudi Arabia does not bother me.

-As an aside, I would point out that Saudia Arabia is the only land I know of (besides R-world) that uses a person's name in its title. Scotland doesn't count.-

With regard to the health care and education issues, once again I agree with you! It amazes me that several times now I have heard that these costs are higher for Americans than they are elsewhere and still, the discussion seems to mainly focus on how much or little each candidate will spend.

Gypsy at Heart said...

I loved Jennifer's comment and so I second it.

I'm also astounded that Scott seemed to swing over to some portion of your views. If that can happen in R World then I'm sure Obama will win in the real world.

Great breakdown Ron.

Ron Davison said...

Jennifer,
yes, poor McCain did seem to hit a few verbal speed bumps. I almost found his obvious emotional expressions more cringe-inducing.

Scott,
Thank you! And although this debate was more interesting than the last one by far, it still amazes me that in times this fascinating that two men can make the future seem so yawn-producing. (Why doesn't Scottland count?)

Milena,
what is the opposite of when the world goes mad? Is the world going sane - giving up on policies that just don't work? I think that the "what's next for the republican party" post is due next. I have some ideas for them.

Big Al said...

I don’t today and won’t in the future feel sorry for McCain should he not win the election. He has run an “attack, attack, attack Obama!” campaign reminiscent of GW. Sure, some of the attack stuff is “sticking” with voters as evidenced by emails I’ve gotten from friends and family still living/working in Ohio. But I gotta’ believe there’s a good number of intelligent people who are asking “John, WTF?!” when they see the world economy in a mess, loan funds not being available even to purchase a new car and 401k retirement accounts losing money as quickly and as badly as the stock market dropping in points. People are jumping into government-backed securities not because they want to get interest return on their principle but because they simply want to be able to get their full principle input in return someday. I’ve heard folks nervously joke they’d be better off holding money in a bank safe deposit box and not in a bank’s interest-bearing account. And John McCain keeps talking about “We need to know the real story on Senator Obama’s association with Bill Ayers!”. *WHAT* is McCain SMOKING?

And BTW, I’ve chuckled during all 3 debates at how both Obama and McCain make all these statements how we must “invest in alternative energy” and we must “sit down and have serious talks w/China and other trading partners about having real free trade”. PURE pre-election grandbull (grandstanding bullshit). Most of their statements are like new product proposal revenue projections where every single revenue forecast looks like a hockey stick where with the blade of the stick on the x-axis and the stick shaft rising in the y-axis at a 60 degree angle to the right. Any wonder it’s the “shaft” that shows an unrealistic rise? Somebody’s getting the shaft all right. And just as how in the new product dev environment nobody ever goes back to measure real revenue realized against initial proposed revenue, so too political office candidates never go back and honestly measure their grandbull projections against what they actually did.

Hmmmm . . . maybe I’m in the wrong profession . . .

Anonymous said...

cray-deet kreesis.

Anonymous said...

Dearest,
I think that they know how to pronounce all of those words, they might even be able to conceive of the concepts as well. (Yeah teachers!...hummm wait,that might exclude W himself.) They just don't seem to "get" the reality that they could be part of a disaster like this. Just shrug, move your shoulders up and down with a chuckle like our fearless leader and repeat 700 billion over and over. That ought to do it! (not)
Maybe the powers that be might read your blog?
Sandi

Ron Davison said...

Big Al,
it would be interesting to have these guys hooked up to a lie detector test while debating. They've both engaged in some frustrating (to me) jujitsu-like question avoidance.

Anon,
th-an-k ewe.

Sandi,
who wants to be part of a disaster? The powers that be do read my blog - look, I've not only got Jennifer, Scott, Milena, Al and you responding to this post, but anonymous - who is behind oodles of great quotes and donations. With anon reading my blog, I'm sure my influence will be notable. In fact - I have just taken note of it.