Friday, June 27, 2008

Red Dirt Talk - Part 2, the Positions (1)

Note: All text in blue is taken directly from the candidates' websites.

Foreign Policy


Ending the War in Iraq

Renewing American Diplomacy
Nuclear Weapons
Building a 21st Century Military
Bipartisanship and Openness

Foreign policy is not BHO's strong suit. He has trouble remembering how many states there are in the US, not to speak of confusing Arabs, with Iranians with Afghans (they all look alike, don't they?). He's developed the novel idea of sitting down around a big table and sorting out this mess with all those Arab folks. I'm sure that'll work. Apparently, even the Libyan President-for-Life Muammar Gadafy gets it: "The statements of our Kenyan brother of American nationality Obama on Jerusalem ... show that he either ignores international politics and did not study the Middle East conflict or that it is a campaign lie." and he goes on to say: "We fear that Obama will feel that, because he is black with an inferiority complex, this will make him behave worse than the whites … This will be a tragedy."

You know you're in trouble when even the people who should be happy to take advantage of him feel that he's a disaster-in-waiting.

I've written about this previously: Go here for a longer discussion, I'll just bring in the last three paragraphs here:

Here's the point: it isn't enough to rope in some old guard cold warriors, hysterical firebrands, high powered, guns-for-hire lawyers and radical ideologues. Mushing them together doesn't get you a viable worldview, a coherent strategy or a workable foreign policy. You, the leader, must have a deep and strong understanding of how the world works, who has a bone in which fight, what they might be willing to give up to get what they can live with. This doesn't come from pre-digested think tank scenarios, cooked up by a random gathering of advisors.

Rather it comes from doing the cold dreary work of diplomacy, day after day, year after year. That way you gain -dare I say it? - the experience to understand both what you're hearing ...and not hearing; to be able to read between the lines; to detect and respond to a nuanced exchange of views. Working with community organizers on South Side Chicago just doesn't cut it.

America needs to be able to talk to its adversaries and its friends, we need to be able to tell the difference. We have suffered a drastic drop in global esteem not because we are powerful - we are, not because we are arrogant - and we are that, too - but because we have been stupid for the last seven years and everyone in the world knows it. We cannot afford to be stupid anymore, we cannot afford child-like naiveté, we cannot afford to abandon old allies or to credulously acquire new ones. The Obama Foreign Policy offers all these flaws and more: Obama's Foreign Policy offers up America to shame and humiliation, to retribution and retaliation. Obama offers to make America the chamberpot for all the ills, real or imagined, of every injured party, past or present, anywhere in the world. Simply put, Obama's Foreign Policy can be summed up in two words: America Last.


Importance of Succeeding

Support the Successful Counterinsurgency Strategy
Push for Political Reconciliation and Good Government
Get Iraq's Economy Back on its Feet
Call for International Pressure on Syria and Iran
Level with the American People
Border Security and Immigration Reform

This is standard McCain/Republican boilerplate: Foreign Policy = Iraq All the Time. Yes, they're obsessed with Iraq and, no, it still doesn't make any sense whatever. At least McCain is honest about his intentions and open about his fantasies. On immigration he's way out front of Obama and everyone else. Hispanic voters have already seen this and with their naturally conservative voting history, one would expect them to move to the (R) side of the ballot for this reason alone.

Economic Policy


Obama has had little to say about the US economy besides the same old tired bromides we've heard all too often. Currently - don't hold me to this, these could change in minutes depending on what's politically advantageous - they are:

--WARNING: Bromide Alert, the information below may cause you to lose brain cells --

From BHOs website:

Provide Middle Class Americans Tax Relief - BHO wants to give you $1K back on your taxes

Trade - Breaking News: BHO thinks NAFTA may have been a bad deal for Americans

...and the rest are just pure political quackery

Technology, Innovation and Creating Jobs

Support Labor
Protect Homeownership and Crack Down on Mortgage Fraud
Address Predatory Credit Card Practices
Reform Bankruptcy Laws
Work/Family Balance

*Sigh*, well that was pretty useless. Let's look at who his advisors are to see what that might tell us:

Austan Goolsbee: U. of Chicago neoclassicist who, for example, objects to single-payer health care on the grounds that it's not good for the 'free' market

David Cutler: Harvard economist who believes that high health costs are good for the economy

Jeffrey Liebman: a Harvard economist who want to privatize social security

Remember these names, you'll see them again under Healthcare advisors, BTW did anyone notice a pattern here? OK, hands down - it did seem kinda familiar, didn't it? Oh wait, this sounds just like GWBs economics... hmmm...


Will Help Americans Hurting From High Gasoline And Food Costs by Instituting A Summer Gas Tax Holiday

Will Stop Filling The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) To Reduce Demand
Will End Policies That Contribute To Higher Transportation And Food Costs
New "HOME Plan" To Provide Robust, Timely And Targeted Help To Those Hurt By The Housing Crisis
Student Loan Continuity Plan
Will Cut Taxes For Middle Class Families and Maintain The Current Income And Investment Tax Rates
Will Make It Harder To Raise Taxes Will Reward Saving, Investment And Risk-Taking
Will Reduce The Federal Corporate Tax Rate To 25 Percent From 35 Percent
Will Ban Internet Taxes and Will Ban New Cell Phone Taxes
Will Act To Lower Medicare Premiums
Will Propose An Alternative New And Simpler Tax System
Will Reform Social Security

This is a grab bag of the usual Republican shibboleths favoring business over citizens. The interesting points are the HOME plan, which lays out a rescue plan for homeowners victimized by the last crop of scam artists, er, mortgage brokers. This plan would provide a pathway from sky-high ARM mortgages to FHA fixed rate deals. It might actually help. Beware the Reform Social Security plan, this is yet another attempt to privatize, i.e., 'gut', a public program.

Educational Policy


Again from BHO's website:

Zero to Five Plan:

Expand Early Head Start and Head Start:
Reform No Child Left Behind:
Make Math and Science Education a National Priority:
Address the Dropout Crisis:
Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities:
Expand Summer Learning Opportunities:
Support College Outreach Programs:
Support English Language Learners:
Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers
Recruit Teachers:
Prepare Teachers:
Retain Teachers:
Reward Teachers:
Higher Education
Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit:
Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid:

From the drivel above you wouldn't get the idea that BHO had given any thought whatsoever to education (and you'd be right) but his old pal Bill Ayers has thought about it a lot. Bill Ayers, BHO's chief education advisor, is better known as the ex-SDS founder of the infamous 'Weather Underground' a stalinist organization which used terrorist tactics to fight against US foreign policy - a lot of us fought US foreign policy in those days but only Bill Ayers' gang of thugs thought they needed to blow up power stations, rob banks and kill people to make their point. Unrepentant, Bill Ayers now runs an educational foundation and under the rubric of teaching 'social justice' he plans to propagandize the younguns (as the Catholics say: get 'em when they're young and you've got 'em for life) into his ideology. I won't go into a critique of his precepts here except to say that misdirection of the young is despicable and inculcation of any ideology is reprehensible.

Personal rant alert: We don't know what educational techniques will work, remember New Math?, but there are practical things we can try first and then sort out what else needs to be fixed: first, limit class sizes to 15 kids or less. Try that simple solution for a couple of years, then when the dust settles, fix whatever is left. Hint: there won't be much.

We don't need BHO, Bill Ayers and marxist schooling for our kids.


One word: Vouchers

The Republican obsession with stealing every public dollar possible goes on. This one's insidious as well, it purports to be about ensuring that every child (and parent) gets to make a choice about the best way to spend their education dollars but it is actually a cover for transferring public money away from public schools and into private, especially religious, schools.

Security Policy


Here is BHO's Senior Working Group on National Security:

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Senator David Boren, former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Secretary of State Warren Christopher
Greg Craig, former director of the State Department Office of Policy Planning
Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig
Representative Lee Hamilton, former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder
Dr. Tony Lake, former National Security Adviser
Senator Sam Nunn, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Secretary of Defense William Perry
Dr. Susan Rice, former Assistant Secretary of State
Representative Tim Roemer, 9/11 Commissioner
Jim Steinberg, former Deputy National Security Adviser

These are essentially the same players as his Foreign Policy team except for the Albright and Christopher, brought in as 'ringers' to soothe troubled brows of HRC supporters no doubt - you can be sure that Zbigniew Brezinski isn't more than a "soo-eee" call away. So we needn't expect there to be any surprises, or creativity, here.

and from the BHO website, his homeland security plans:

Protecting Our Chemical Plants

Keeping Track of Spent Nuclear Fuel
Evacuating Special Needs Population in Emergencies
Reuniting Families After Emergencies
Keeping Our Drinking Water Safe
Protecting the Public from Radioactive Releases

Nothing new here - all the plans have been drawn up at the Rand Corporation for twenty years now. Still, I've got to wonder where all the "ChangeHopeBelieve" creative thinking is? Just following the GWB path leads to more surveillance, more ID papers (are your papers in order?), more control. Hmmm....


Strong Military in a Dangerous World

Fighting Against Violent Islamic Extremists and Terrorist Tactics
Effective Missile Defense
Increasing the Size of the American Military
Modernizing the Armed Services
Smarter Defense Spending

Security - Foreign Policy - Immigration - it's all sort of a moshpit for Republicans. There's a huge sandbox with great
gobs of money to throw around and since they've successfully castrated the Democrats there's no one holding a "STOP" sign anymore. McCain will have a field day here, what with BHOs inexperience and cupidity on display every day.

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