Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What would the McCain Campaign Do ...

with this statement from Sarah Palin:

“They [U.S. soldiers] are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan.”
Probably something like this ...

They'd send some gutterball smearmongering flunky (probably the VP candidate herself, ironically) out to bark:
Look what she's sayin' now! She's callin' Afghanistan "our neighboring country." Can you believe it?!?! You betcha! Now, ya wanna know which countries are "neighboring" Afghanistan? Try Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran! Makes ya wonder, don't it, (wink, wink) if Palin doesn't actually think she's livin' in one of these stalwarts of democracy (wink, wink)! Perhaps she's engagin' in a bit of wishful thinkin', though, and feels envious of the kind of "neighbors" Afghanistan really has and would like to be one of them terrorist-harborin', terrorist-lovin' "neighbors."
I really hope that reasonable Americans are horrified at what the McCain campaign has become. What kind of major political party in America in this day and age sends its VP-candidate around to rallies to stoke up the kind of rabid hate -- reminiscent of lynch-mobs of the past -- that would result in one of the rally-goer's reacting to this incendiary hate language about Barack Obama by shouting out: "Kill him!" It's absolutely shocking and astonishing that it would not only come to this, but actually be tolerated by and propagated by the GOP.

Sarah Palin might think she's just taking the gloves off; but what this incompetent joke of a national leader seems to fail to realize is that she's also pulling the noose out and dangling it tantalizingly in front of the noses of some very angry, unstable, and hate-filled people.

It's unconscionable for any decent person to support the McCain/Palin ticket.


Cynthia said...

what do you think about obama's vote on the bailout package?

Huck said...

cynthia - I opposed the bailout package for many of the same reasons lots of Democrats didn't support it, namely that it was mostly a sop to the investment banking bigwigs, but also because it rewarded, in general, bad decisions all the way around. So, I was disappointed in Obama's vote for it. I can understand why he voted for it, though. The vote on the bailout is not a deal-breaker for me.

Eric said...

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard or read death wishes cast towards President Bush by his political opponents, I'd have a bunch of dollars. Why has the left tolerated these people for nearly 8 years? Presumably, they will be voting for Obama, does that make supporting him unconscionable?

See how unfair that is? Of course most Republicans are horrified by anybody who yells "Kill him!" in reference to Obama (although, it isn't quite clear they weren't talking bout Ayers, who has admitted to committing atrocities that might move reasonable people to call for his head). Are you arguing that a vote for McCAin/Palin is a vote in support of the idea of lynching Obama?

I think the McCain campaign has been more disappointing than horrifying. Hillary made the exact same connections to Ayers during the primaries, and I didn't hear anybody talking about how she was pulling out the noose and calling the lynch mob by doing so.

If there's one thing this election is proving, it is just how little race matters to the majority of Americans these days.

Eric said...


If there was one chance Obama had at actually 'reaching across the aisle' and attracting some votes from the other ideological side, it was over the bailout package.

If he'd led a (successful) charge in opposition to the plan, on the basis that the whole thing was just a Trillion Dollar Punt by Bush & Paulson to pass this problem down to the next administration, while McCain supported and fought for the bailout package, I would find myself in the awkward position of having an incredibly hard time voting against him.

G Bitch said...

Sarah Palin might think she's just taking the gloves off; but what this incompetent joke of a national leader seems to fail to realize is that she's also pulling the noose out and dangling it tantalizingly in front of the noses of some very angry, unstable, and hate-filled people.

Huck, I think Palin and McCain's campaign know full well they are courting the votes of "angry, unstable, and hate-filled people"--it's the main strategy they've had, amplified now because McCain's poll numbers are sinking and we are close to the end. Desperation brings out the rusty metal spikes. It's dangerous to think they don't know what they are doing. People are getting paid to do this; it's no seat-of-the-pants volunteer thing.

Maitri said...

Hillary made the exact same connections to Ayers during the primaries, and I didn't hear anybody talking about how she was pulling out the noose and calling the lynch mob by doing so.

Democratic politicians normally don't attract the noose-yanking, lynch mob types or the type who would openly yell "Kill him!" about a sitting president or anyone in a large crowd.

Huck said...

Eric - I'm not saying that a vote for McCain/Palin is a vote in support of lynching Obama. What I'm saying is a vote for McCain/Palin is a vote for the type of politics that whips people into a frenzy based on the absolute worst of our inclinations and prejudices. It is a vote for an irrational mentality that seeks the end of physical harm.

And if it had only been the "Kill him!" comment, one might call it isolated; but the fact is that all of the McCain/Palin campaign rallies these days are witnessing this kind of lynch mob reactions. I saw a YouTube of McCain at a rally asking 'Who is Barack Obama' and hearing folks yell out the response "Terrorist!"

What is unconscionable is supporting any candidate who so baldly engages in this kind of campaigning.

You mention that you've heard Bush's political opponents issue death wishes; but I'd like for you to point out any major political candidate or national officeholder of the Democratic Party that actively incites this kind of reprehensible behavior. McCain and Palin, who are vying to be the President and VP of all America, are going around smearing another American not only as an anti-American, but as a threat to all that is American that merits shouts of "terrorist" and "kill him." That elicits folks hurling racial epithets at a black cameraman and ording him to "sit down, boy." You can't really be so naive as to think that the kind of gutterball that McCain and Palin are playing are acceptable for any kind of leader of our country that pretends to want to represent all of us.

And let me say that any candidate on the left who has said or continues to say such vicious and shocking things like "terrorist" and "kill him" at a campaign rally as part of a candidate's call and response with his supporters regarding his political opponent is shocking and equally reprehensible. It shouldn't be tolerated at all; and I, for one, have never tolerated it.

It shocks the conscience, Eric, not that these haters exist, but that we see these kinds of unsettling call and responses encouraged and provoked by the actual candidates themselves.

MAD said...

How dare you call McCain supporters as not "decent' or "unconscionable". You have a right to your opinion, but no right to defame those who may have made a different choice. I thought that professors encourage critical thinking and debate, not the demonizing of those who may disagree with the opinions of the professor.

Huck said...

mad - I do find it unconscionable that any human being with any shred of decency can support a ticket that has riled up its supporters in such a mob-like manner that they chant in a call-and-response campaign event: "Kill Him!" in reference to Obama. Whipping up the base in this way is not a haphazard byproduct, but a calculated campaign strategy. It offends the conscience.

And what the hell does the fact that I'm a professor have anything to do with my rights to express an independent opinion. I would guess that you know nothing about how I teach or conduct my classes, or whether or not I encourage and support critical thinking.

I am sure there are behaviors that you consider to be unconscionable. And I would never hold your "critical thinking" bona fides in question, or your professional life in doubt, because you thought something to be unconscionable.

What? Is it somehow anti-critical thinking to say that the genocide in Darfur is unconscionable? I have every right to call people out for their implicit support for what I think is unconscionable behavior and to think them indecent for supporting it.

You have every right to be offended at what I call unconscionable and whom I think to be decent or not for aligning with unconscionable behavior. I can accept that. I can even accept your right to call me indecent and unconscionable for supporting Obama. That wouldn't be the first time I've been told that. And you're very welcome and certainly within your rights to go ahead and say that.

Eric said...

I won't call you indecent, Huck, but it does sound like a bit of an exaggeration to posit that McCain/Palin are purposefully trying to rally people to lynch Obama, and that is what you have said here in a very subtle manner.

So, last night's debate has me a little worried, as a small business owner, about Obama's health care plan. Today I go to his website to look up specifics and was rather dismayed to find that there aren't very many.

You want to talk about unconscionable, Huck? How ethical is it to support a guy who admits he will force small businesses to make obligatory contributions (cute how he doesn't call them taxes, because to do so would negate his promise of no tax increases to small business) to a National Health Insurance Exchange plan, but refuses to divulge who has to pay or how much they might have to pay? Not even a ballpark figure. I guess business owners should all just trust that he has our best interests in mind, huh?

Honestly, Obama's "Insurance Exchange" plan sounds to me like a recipe for a repeat of the mortgage melt-down, except with healthcare.
If insurance companies are forced to take people regardless of their pre-existing conditions, why on earth would a healthy person ever pay for comprehensive coverage? Just get a cheap catastrophic injury plan, and then if you get cancer, go get insurance after the fact. Nevermind that this is a surefire recipe to put all the insurance companies into insolvency, we can always just force employers to pay their employees hospital bills directly... sheesh.

Huck said...

Eric - You have a legitimate point about the specifics on Obama's Insurance Exchange plan. Obama should divulge the details of this in as specific a way possible. I'll see if I can find out more about this myself. In principle, though, I believe Obama's strategy moves us in the right direction, which includes the idea of a National Health Insurance Exchange that gives employees a range of public AND private choices for health coverage. It is also my understanding from what I do know of the Exchange that the obligations of employers are not to automatically contribute to a public program if they offer meaningful coverage to their employees. So, by my understanding, it is very feasible for businesses to be exempt entirely from the Insurance Exchange if they accept the responsibility to provide some meaningful healthcare insurance options for their employees. And, I also understand that small businesses who may not have the financial flexibility to assume the cost sharing with employees for a meaningful health insurance program, would be eligible for significant tax credits, or even possibly be exempt completely from the requirement to contribute to the public plan.

Fundamentally, though, I agree with Obama that health care is a basic human right, and thus I agree with the idea that businesses should participate in realizing this right at least for the humans who work and labor for their profit.

What so often happens in small businesses is that no affordable healthcare plans are avaialable to employees, and so employees, when they get sick, go to publicly funded hospitals for care. Employers thus avoid the direct costs of this care, but benefit from the care as it provides for the productive capacity of their employers by keeping them healthy. In fact, Obama's plan, through employer contributions to the Insurance Exchange program, will make it possible for small businesses to offer healthcare to their employees where previously the costs to employers in doing so through private providers was prohibitive. I do not think employers should be able simply to tell their employees: "if you work for me, you're on your own as far as health insurance coverage is concerned." Employers profit from the health of their employees, they should therefore invest in their employees' healthcare.

But you are right that Obama should provide some specifics on how much participation in this public program will cost so that employers can plan accordingly.

Now, I wouldn't ever call the Palin/McCain campaign indecent and unconscionable for calling Obama's plan socialist and confiscatory and whatever other criticisms might be levied at the plan. That's all fair game. But to incite people with such inflammatory rhetoric that has nothing at all to do with policies, governance, or issue substance, such that folks in the audience respond with calling another American "terrorist" or screaming out "kill him" or hurling racial epithets that result in nasty encounters with innocent bystander like a black cameraman and ordering him to "sit down, boy" harkens back to the worst inclinations of ethnically motivated mob violence. I just find inciting people in such ways, as a calculated campaign strategy, to be shockingly unconscionable.

I know you don't agree with this recent turn taken by the McCain campaign, Eric, and may vote for the McCain/Palin ticket for other reasons; but sometimes a line has to be drawn. I've drawn the line with Bill Jefferson down here in New Orleans. I think it is unconscionable and indecent for someone to support Bill Jefferson. And I refuse to vote for him for that reason. And I, personally, think that this line has been crossed by the McCain/Palin campaign. In fact, I think McCain himself knows this and is somewhat uncomfortable with this because he assiduously avoided going there in his debate with Obama last night. And some on the right are lambasting him for not going there. But I think it's too uncomfortable for McCain personally to go there, though he has embraced that strategy for his campaign and has no compunctions about sending Palin out to sully herself in this way. McCain made his bed with the angry, hate-filled rightwing; and now he has to sleep in it, even though I don't really think he likes it all that much.

Sarah Palin, though, who is goaded by the hatemongers and smearmongers of the hard rightwing, and who feels empowered enough by them to even challenge McCain himself on this (i.e. telling folks that McCain should "take the gloves off" too) has embraced this despicable behavior fully and wholeheartedly. And it's a pathetic shame and travesty of our democracy that she is utterly and completely inaccessible and unaccountable to American citizens and voters via any kind of critical media in this campaign.

I know our passions are running high these days, Eric; and I blame the ramping up of the character smears of the McCain campaign for this. But I have never, in my lifetime, seen a national campaign use such incendiary tactics to go after a rival candidate.

D-BB said...

Hey G bitch, How dare you profile people with your characterzation of "angry, unstable, and hate-filled".

I am "angry, unstable, and hate-filled people" (plus I do myself way too much) but I am still supporting Obama.

Hey G Bitch, one more thing. Are u hot?

D-BB said...

Maitri, in all fairness, did u notice how scaggy looking the girls were at the Demo's convention and how hot so many girls were at the pub's convention?

They look like the type who I would taze if they asked me out.

Don't get me wrong, I'm voting Obama but geesh, what a bunch of cows.

Anonymous said...

You are off-base when you start characterizing those that disagree with you as not "decent", or, as G-Bitch believes, "hate-filled" or "unstable". I have no problems with fair criticism of any candidate, but gross mischaracterizations of the supporters of any candidate is inappropriate.
Can't we seek a certain level of, say, maturity, in this important debate, without resorting to foolish and gratuitous name-calling?

Huck said...

anonymous - Thanks for the comment. Please let me clarify one thing here. I am not characterizing those who disagree with me as indecent. It is not the disagreement part that I find objectionable. What I find inconscionable and indecent is supporting a campaign that consciously and publicly, as a matter of campaign strategy, uses character smear tactics that result in the kind of responses from the consumers of inflammatory rhetoric as expressions of violence ("kill him") or other kinds of outlandish slurs ("terrorist" and "sit down, boy") both to the person who could be the next President of the US or to an innocent bystander. Furthermore, this campaign not only inflames such hate-filled outbursts, it doesn't even have the decency to condemn them when they occur.

When McCain asks the question: "Who is Barack Obama?" and someone clearly shouts out "Terrorist!" McCain could have and should have said to this: "Now that's not appropriate. Obama's got a lot of baggage, but being a terrorist is not one of them, and we shouldn't have to stoop to that level to beat him." But, alas, calls of "Kill him!" or "terrorist" at official campaign rallies are met with silence.

So, when I say it is "unconscionable for any decent person" to support the McCain/Palin ticket for very specific reasons, I am being neither foolish nor gratuitous. I see something happening that shocks my conscience, I explain what I think that is, and then I express how supporting this or tolerating this by silent acquiescence goes against what I consider to be worthy of a decent person.

Perhaps maybe some folks would think the same of me for supporting Obama, given his position on certain issues. But I would not claim that anyone who espouses such a view of me is doing so only because of a disagreement on preferred candidates. I would presume that they believe my support for Obama is indecent because of some reprehensible behavior on Obama or his campaign's part.

I know a lot of good people will vote for McCain/Palin; but I truly believe that doing so will require a compromise of one's values regarding how we should treat our fellow human beings with dignity and decency in order to do so. Perhaps that moral diminishment is worth the vote for McCain/Palin on other fronts, but I will neither mitigate this moral diminishment, nor cause me to hide an expression of how I would react to it.

D-BB said...

Huck, u took them words right out of my mouth.

McCain proved just how much out of touch he is with people when he said last night that Pres. Hoover raised taxes and you saw what happened......damn, he is the only living person left since the Great Depression. Just saying the name "Hoover" is lost on most of the population that be more ignoranter then you and me, not that you and me am ignorant.

He needed to connect Hoover with the Depression, but again, it proves he is out of touch.

And that guy had the gall to post anonymous. Just what is he trying to hide?

Eric said...

"Employers profit from the health of their employees, they should therefore invest in their employees' healthcare."

Good lord, Huck.

In one sentence, you've made me already start to miss President Bush, and I never thought I would miss President Bush.

Thanks for that.

That is such a ludicrous statement that I can't believe you actually have thought it through to any serious degree. Maybe employers should pay their employees' mortgages, buy their groceries, pay their heating bills, and cut their meat up for them at dinnertime, too. Where the Hell does this kind of thinking end, and by what standard?

Huck said...

Eric - Why is it such a ludicrous statement? Employers regularly invest in things that directly relate to their employees productivity. Employers invest in training programs to develop their minds and keep them abreast of the mental requirements of the job. Employers send their employees to mandatory professional development training seminars. Employers invest in a lot of things relative to their employees' capacity to be productive contributors to their bottom line. But when it comes to investing in their employees' physical health and well-being through a cost-sharing health insurance program, you get all up in arms? I don't get it. Forget the moral claim, which to me is enough in itself, but let's take it purely on the level of a business decision -- it makes perfect sense.

Your question of where does that thinking end bears consideration. But the implication in your question is that there shouldn't even be a point at which this thinking even begins. By that measure, employers should be able to abuse their employees as long as the employees are willing to take that abuse. Employers don't need to cut their employees' meat up for them at dinnertime, but they do need to make sure that they aren't spraying them with chemicals that cause physical harm. Do you think that employers have absolutely no obligations to their employees beyond giving them a paycheck?

Eric said...

This is a wholly unserious argument, Huck.

Of course employers have an obligation to provide employees with a reasonably safe workplace, because the employees have to come there all day every day. These obligations end when the employee walks out the door at the end of the day.

If I am forced to "invest" in my employees healthcare (and lets be clear that I shouldn't, but let's just say it happens anyway) then why shouldn't I be allowed to follow them home in the evening and check up on them to make sure they are eating right, or not smoking? Would you also be willing to grant me the power to do a pantry-check at their house and fire them for keeping too many Ho-Ho's in the cupboard? (Not that I'd want that responsibility, but if I'm going to be forced to be the steward of their health, I might as well do the job right).

There's nothing wrong with employers CHOOSING to offer health benefits to employees as an incentive to work for them, but there is something wrong with the government making it a mandate, or forcing employers who don't offer health insurance to subsidize healthcare costs for their employees. My company could afford to offer healthcare benefits, but I'd rather pay employees more money and let them decide how to spend it. Plus, I'd have to hire somebody to administer the plan, and if I am going to hire another employee I'd rather their job be focused on our core business. If you don't think those are decisions I should be at liberty to make, then quite frankly, your mindset is tyrannical.

Huck said...

Eric - I guess we'll just have to disagree on the place of healthcare in our society. I agree with Obama that it is a fundamental human right. As such, I believe that government has a role in providing for and defending that fundamental right. Would you agree that any taxation is tyrannical? Or would you agree that government has a right to tax for certain things? It seems to me that if you support the right to taxation (and corresponding spending) for anything, then that would be a tyrannical mindset.

Where does the tyranny end? Is it tyrannical for the government to take my money and spend it on missile defense, even though I would never choose to spend my money on missile defense? How do you justify government's forcing me to invest in missile defense shields, or nuclear weaponry?

I think we may have been down this road before, but it seems to me that you would have to agree on principle that taking my money to spend on missile defense against my will is tyrannical in the same way as doing so for healthcare.

So, perhaps my mindset is tyrannical in the way you suggest, but I would say that any person who accepts the government's right to tax and spend is equally tyrannical.

Then we are left to try to justify the tyranny based on some kind of subjective values as to what government should be doing and what it should not be doing. And that's where we disagree. I wouldn't call it an unserious argument on either side, just a disagreement.

With regard to your argument about whether paying for healthcare should allow you the right to police pantries and eating habits. Of course it doesn't, at least no more than if I as a business owner paying into the federal treasury which buys guns for national defense would have the right to police one of my employees' gun collections or personal firearms habits.

Eric said...

Huck, yes, some tyranny is inherent in any form of government. The only protection we have from it is the Bill of Rights in our constitution, and try as you might, you won't find "affordable health care" listed there. Even if we agree that it is a right (and we don't), the federal government has no authority to use my money to endorse it (they do, however, have authority to use our money towards national defense). If Obama wants to work within the rules and fight to have the Constituion ammended, that's a fight I'd be willing to concede if I lost. However, if you and he want to circumvent the Constituion, you are trampling on a constitutionally enumerated right (4th amendment) in favor of one that has been created out of whole cloth over the last 30 years.

Huck said...

I don't think I've ever had a comment thread go beyond 20!

Eric - First, let me say that even though I'm pretty passionate about the way things are turning these days in the campaign and am expressing myself very strongly because of this, I'm still very much grateful for your comments and have the utmost respect for your positions. We all have our little hot buttons, and mine has been pushed over the past few days by the McCain/Palin campaign's treatment of Obama. I'm sure that I'll calm down some as things settle, and maybe even regret something I've said or the tone of my saying it, but don't think all that ill of me in the process! I'm just trying to push back with some force at the unfair railroading I think is happening here.

Regarding your last point, I would venture to say that the question of the constitutionality of government to tax and spend on the things that it does have been thorougly vetted by the judiciary and decided upon. If the Government is violating the Constitution in its manner of taxation and spending, I'm sure the SCOTUS would have put a stop to it. Now, you may disagree with the judiciary's decisions on this front, but your personal opinion is not how our system works. If you respect the function of our judiciary, as imperfect as you might see it, in rendering judgments, then it seems to me that if the law respects and accepts the Executive's right to spend money on particular programs and constitutionally legitimate, then I would say that Obama is, indeed, "working within the rules" of the system that every other President has worked within in modern history.

Eric said...

"Regarding your last point, I would venture to say that the question of the constitutionality of government to tax and spend on the things that it does have been thorougly vetted by the judiciary and decided upon"

You know as well as I that the SC has never ruled on whether or not Americans have a constitutional right to health insurance. Unless Obama gets an opportunity to stack the court with liberal judges first, I actually think there is a chance the SC might strike down his plan based on those grounds.

Huck said...

Eric - You're right. But as with many other government funded programs, including the national endowment for the arts, social security, medicaid, food stamps, etc., there is no specific constitutional provision for such programs, yet the courts have not only supported them as legitimate, but have even developed a whole body of case law to regulate and manage such government programs. The same may well be true for any kind of healthcare reform program along the lines of Obama's proposal. It's the executive's prerogative to use tax dollars to fund programs that "promote the general welfare" -- and then if lawsuits are filed challenging a program's constitutionality, then the courts will have their chance to decide the matter.