unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘health care

Radical change we could agree on?

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Income Tax is the most ridiculously counter-productive tax we could possibly impose in terms of productivity. We want Americans to be productive. We want them to earn, to create things that others may buy, to create jobs. We do not want them to limit productivity in order to maintain a balance. Americans aren’t about wading in the middle, it’s our tax system that creates people like a friend of mine who always worked 36.5 hours, the minimum average to keep his full-time status, but where he figured that the rest of his check would all go to taxes. He was an accounting major, so I’m sure his math wouldn’t have been too far off, and he always seemed to have more take-home pay and get more back on his returns every year.

A consumption tax would serve the public good, be a better model for a more-free market, and most of all put the balance of incentives back in order. We want people to earn, to save and contribute to the circular flow of money within their communities. We don’t want anyone to shy away from work. If I work my ass off and save enough to buy a house with cash, that’s good for a lot of people. Sure, I may cut out some bank middle-mannery but who wants to argue they deserve to finance those who are inherently more responsible than their own management? If I’m keeping all of my money, I can afford to account for the taxes to buy a nice place in America, where many people enjoy resort-style amenities just for existing in a nice community. If I want to buy five platinum-plated Maseratis, I’ll be prepared to take the hit, but don’t punch me for punching in.

NI4D – The National Initiative for Democracy is the hidden-in-plain-view answer to many of our political woes. Last I checked, there are 11 states using some form of public initiative system. How else would things like medical marijuana get on a ballot? Or ever get a vote of any kind? Or gay marriage bans, for that matter? There are many things that make sense to the general public that are simply too dangerous for any politician to approach, let alone a majority of Congress. Throughout my college days I came across a lot of people who didn’t vote, but were somewhat informed and had an opinion. Even those who vote in Presidential elections rarely vote in off-year and local elections. Voter turnout does not really reflect a complete political apathy, more an apathy with the effectiveness of the current voting system.

Enter the national initiative. If the majority of Americans do not want a war, the majority should be heard. If a majority of residents of a state support a doctor’s right to prescribe medical marijuana, a conservative or pandering legislature should not block the will of the people on a state’s rights issue. If a majority of the public believe that a doctor may refuse to perform certain treatments based on their religious beliefs, I don’t believe any law could Constitutionally coerce them otherwise so long as this is made clear to the patient before their life is in the hands of the doctor. The Bill of Rights mentions the rights of the people in the 9th Amendment, and again as a part of state’s rights. This is better served in those 11 states with initiative systems, and referendum and recall can also be a better way to clear the haze of our current political system. All of the nonsense calls for resignation, all of the political posturing on issues the speaker doesn’t even believe will ever come to a vote and the back-and-forth nature of our failing two-party system would at least see some improvement and at most clear the way for real public discourse, real participatory democracy.

Concerning gay marriage: I say again, can the government simply refuse to define a marriage in any way? Let churches or individuals have the right to define their own “marriages”, and simply allow for all couples seeking to join their lives to be unified in the governments eyes. The slippery slope argument doesn’t fly here. The US has a long precedent of defining such unions as a union of only two, consenting adults. We have laws restricting the marriages of children which are legitimately in the public interest. Lately some ultra-conservative Congressmen have been comparing homosexuality to pedophilia. This is ludicrous and gets a gut reaction in many ways, but I’d offer one rational argument without gut involved. By definition, pedophilia violates legitimate laws in public interest. Sure, there could be homosexual predators out there, but as Chris Hansen proves there are predators of all stupid persuasions. But a union of consenting adults should not be the government’s business to deny one group if it is permitted for another.

If marriage is a religious practice, the sanctity of which should be defended, then it should remain out of the government. What the government should do is have a system for defining next of kin in a humane way, with the utmost priority on individual freedom to choose who is considered a spouse by a hospital.

I’m often accused of being an ultra-liberal or whatever you’d call it, but those tags really are just how others see you based on the conversations you’ve had. Sure, if you’re talking to me about health care, I sound a bit more on the liberal side. But if we’re talking about guns, I’m never really accused of being a conservative. That’s odd considering I don’t think any American should need to choose a “favorite Amendment” from the Bill of Rights. There was a specific reason our founders first defended speech, press and religion then our last line of defense second. This is not a “hunter’s” Amendment, although along with defense, we should be allowed to enjoy sport. It is the first line of the Constitution that says… and if you fail to obey the Kings of America as prescribed by the first three words of the Preamble… we’re not, ya know, gonna take it. The contentious issue here for many liberals is hinged on people like Glenn Beck, who think you start talking about getting guns ready. Paul Revere didn’t ride around practicing his speech. He wasn’t the lead character in ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.

In all honesty, your guns will never be taken away. You’ll be able to feel more confident in that fact if we enact a national initiative system, but at the very least liberal politicians are not a monolith against guns. I was listening to J.Douche Hateworth on the radio the other day and he played a little “comedy” piece that described a terrorist with a knife coming at a family, he said if the father is a liberal he’d quake in his boots and think of pacifism. First of all, a terrorist with a knife? Second of all, his scenario says both fathers have a loaded weapon. You think liberals make bad fathers, Hayworth? Why don’t you come at me with a knife and see how liberal I am?

I’m no gun liberal in terms of ever wishing to take away the guns of any law-abiding citizen. I’m not sure that extreme restrictions on gun possession are the way to get the “more dangerous” criminals. If you look at the example of Al Capone, who was finally brought to justice on racketeering charges. The man ordered countless murders, but we get him for tax evasion? Don’t get me wrong, at the time it was a victory and having a definite criminal in prison is never a bad thing. But how many innocent people do go to jail? How many non-violent offenders serve time for marijuana possession? We can get the little fish, right or wrong, but we have trouble with the big fish? That’s essentially the same logic some liberals use that says driving through a school zone with a legally owned and registered weapon is automatically a crime. It’s pathetic when you consider that most legal gun-owners use their weapons for sport or self-defense. Sure, people stretch the definition of self-defense all the time, but that’s going to happen in society. The answer is more education. More organizations like the NRA who promote gun safety and tradition, and they need to be in the mainstream. The NRA shouldn’t automatically be considered one with the Republican party, although it’s most ardent supporters are often conservative. Gun ownership should be promoted among all law-abiding citizens, because at least one flying spaghetti monster knows that criminals will always have weapons.

“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” I can’t find the original source of that quote, although in looking I found a great quote from Charlton Heston speaking on Fox News back in 1997: “There’s no such thing as a good gun. There’s no such thing as a bad gun. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a very dangerous thing. A gun in the hands of a good person is no danger to anyone except the bad guys.” What we should do to curb gun violence is create more good guys, through lifelong education and a societal emphasis on family of some kind. I know adopted kids who are great successes and legacies who have fizzled out, and it all came down to involvement. If people are involved in the lives of children they will learn to act as responsible people do, if children are raised with every amenity money can buy with no relationship with parents or some caregiver they will look for a role model somewhere. Think of the ratio of crap-to-awesome at any given mall. I’d argue that you’re taking the same gamble by allowing your child to pick any role model from their lives in your absence. Sure, they could end up with an amazing role model somewhere but it’s a gamble parents don’t have to take. Well, they shouldn’t have to take.

This is where I can get more liberal on people, but I simply can’t believe you can support both family and bite-sized government. Health care is a part of this. Healthy parents can work without getting sick as often, imposing less of a burden on the family’s budget and productivity. Children’s health care helps give all Americans a chance to grow up and contribute to society rather than being punished by the circumstances of their birth. I do not advocate wreckless takeover of health care by the government, but a quick read of the Preamble would establish that the federal government has some responsibility to our health at least in terms of keeping us productive and safe from potential pandemic. The more free we are to be productive and contribute to society, the more we all benefit. We will all have different ideas about how to get us there, but I think we’d all agree on the benefits of a healthy society.

These are just some ramblings. I just wonder if we all agreed on the results we wanted, the discourse on the methods might be more civil.

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Rosenbaum: McCain, stop lying about Obama’s health care plan

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Health Care for America Now (HCAN) – the unprecedented coalition of large labor groups, community-based organizations, women’s groups, doctors, nurses, small businesses, think tanks, and leading netroots activists – released the following statement today in response to Senator McCain’s repeated false claims that Senator Obama’s health care plan will “force small businesses to cut jobs and reduce wages and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor”

“Senator Obama’s heath care plan offers the American people and American business a choice. His plan allows individuals to stay with the private insurance they have now, choose a new health care plan similar to the one Congress has, or opt into a new public plan so we are no longer left at the mercy of the private insurance industry. His plan includes lowering health care costs for small business and allowing employers to offer health insurance by paying for it as a percentage of their payroll rather than continue to feed into the current system where premiums are completely disconnected from what a business can afford.

Too many Americans already know the frustration of having a bureaucrat stand between them and their doctor because that is exactly how the unregulated private insurance market operates now. McCain’s health care plan, which proposes taxing your health care benefits at work and eliminating what little regulation already exists by allowing people to purchase across state lines, will raise costs and lower consumer protections.

Health Care for America Now asks Senator McCain to level with the American people and stop lying about Obama’s health care proposal.” – Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager, Health Care for America Now

This organization is a large base of Americans from many walks of life. This isn’t a partisan (although it ends up with partisan conclusions) attack. It’s despicable to see the lies coming out of the McCain campaign on everything from tax proposals to health care to the meaning of rhetoric. Jason Rosenbaum has done a great job compiling some of the fact-checking that has taken place surrounding this particular lie. The facts just need to come front and center and they will be impossible to ignore: John McCain will hurt most Americans at a time when we’re already in dire straits.

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Written by unastronaut

September 15, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Super-delegates never were going to steal the election, but they are Obama’s insurance after a rough patch

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I have a theory. After seeing Chuck Todd say that another super-delegate has jumped ship from the Clinton to Obama campaign, citing the tone of the campaign. A lot of things are happening, and the candidates are each reacting to literally everything. Partly because they’re asked a ton of questions every day. This is a consequence of making themselves available.

I believe the super-delegates are something the media has never gotten right all along, much like a lot of things (Iraq War/WMDs, the impact of rhetoric). They were never going to stroll out of some closed-door meeting and steal the election from the deserving African-American candidate, as many in the media have speculated. They simply are acting as insurance to what the people want, and many of them (seemingly) have wanted the Obama message to catch on with the people, and are all too eager to jump ship when they see polls staying put through “controversy.” The media is known for spin, the people know this, and the super-delegates know it is the positions on issues (ethics reform, the war, the economy and health care) that matter most to people. When people hear change, we’re not politicos, we think of changing the BS in government that has put us in the current predicament.

Just an idea…

“We don’t know much about this guy” is a lie about Obama

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Tonight on MSNBC’s Verdict with Dan Abrams, Tony Blankley, a former speechwriter for the Reagan administration concluded the media is addressing the Reverend Wright circus properly.  He feels that because we’re on the cusp of potentially electing the first black president — and since we don’t know much about him — we must consider things like Reverend Wright before we cast a vote for Obama.  

Earlier in the show John Kerry is asked a question about Wright, his answer was clear and in direct opposition to the spin Blankley gives.  Kerry says “let this go” and that the media is focused on the past instead of the future of major issues concerning Americans.  As a concerned American, I agree.  It’s been frequently discussed in this blog as I feel the media is reporting it through such a narrow, pre-spun way it is necessary to at least make sure more of the information is out there.  

[On the same episode of Verdict, the ‘Why America Hates Washington’ segment was about the military contracts inadvertantly funding the recently-raided polygamist sect near El Dorado, TX.  Sexual abuse has now been revealed among boys as well as the still underage girls who are pregnant with their third or forth child.  I had reported on this earlier in April, and I probably found it on Digg.]

Tony Blankley, and many others in the media need to understand the “we don’t know much about this man” charade is all bullshit and many Americans have already called you on this. 

Personal Memoirs

Each candidate has written a book or two. Barack Obama has written two books about his life, his upbringing, his beliefs, race and ambitions.  John McCain has written six-plus books, primarily on his family memoirs of his Admiral father and grandfather. He’s also written about Middle East politics, Afghanistan, courage and air bag safety. Hillary Clinton has written memoirs and children’s books.

Landmark Legislation

Barack Obama is responsible for the same number of pieces of passed landmark legislation (2) in his two years as Senator Clinton during her four years in the Senate.  The only current bill any of the three remaining candidates were actually co-sponsoring was the earmark moratorium, which all three have co-sponsored.

Committee Work

Hillary Clinton serves on these committees:

  • Armed Services
  • Environment and Public Works
  • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
  • Special Committee on Aging

Barack Obama also serves on four committees:

  • Foreign Relations
  • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
  • Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • Veterans’ Affairs

Commander-in-Chief/Executive Experience

People claim Senator Obama isn’t experienced enough to be Commander-in Chief, where I’d say Sen. McCain’s record looks the most personal, but his experience wasn’t in leadership — like his father and grandfather, both admirals.  When compared to Senator Clinton, Obama has served on both the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security committees, while Hillary Clinton serves on the Armed Services committee.  

Committee work is not true executive experience, but it is a political arena in which speaking requires you have a good question for whomever is being deposed, a recommendation on a piece of legislation, or just a generally good idea.  As far as previous experience is concerned, none of the candidates have actually served as leadership executives.  If that were the primary factor in voter’s minds, we’d have polls indicating Mitt Romney is leading at this point.  We might have already elected Ret. General Wesley Clark in 2004.

Voting on Issues

Each candidate has voted on a spectrum of issues, and even Senator Obama has voted on all of the issues currently facing our nation having been in the Senate (even if only for two years).  Sen. McCain has weighed in on having a federal holiday in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.  He evidently got it wrong the first time, so he had to spend time apologizing this year on the campaign trail.  I’d really rather not use that as a reason to vote against McCain, but rather see why voting over a long period of time doesn’t mean much, other than the fact that one current issue has one candidate standing alone.

War in Iraq/Distraction from Afghanistan

Only Senator Barack Obama was against the war from the beginning.  We were lied to by the Bush administration and a news media eager to do the government’s dirty work disseminating propaganda.  There were no weapons of mass destruction.  There were not operating extremist cells in Iraq, because Saddam was never liked by radical and fundamental Islamists like bin Laden.  Iraq and Iran balanced each other and kept each other in check for years.

Interventionism vs. Non-interventionism

Anyone who felt what President Reagan did made you safer, or the policy of not invading Iraq of the first Bush administration actually was better international use of military force as a protective measure only should feel swindled by this war.  I know it’s too late to bring back those lost, it’s too late to undo everything we’ve done, but we have rid the world of one dictator, who had an established rule in a time where information traveled more slowly.  

Today we have faster flow of information, and a better network of international peacekeeping forces who could actually intervene if there were a legitimate threat coming from the region.  This is why the concept of a nation policing the globe should be obsolete.  This is why we must not stay.  Let them find their own Founding Fathers, let them express the Iraqi Dream.

Unwrapping Media Spin

When pundits say “we don’t know much about him” they are just lying and getting away with it.  Nobody points out that these people are living their lives every day in the public eye.  Everything they have done in the past is available through Google, and anything they’ve said has probably hit YouTube.  Each candidate has written books, given votes and taken stances.  The question is, which direction do you choose for the nation?

Do we go with the veteran ex-maverick who has turned to pandering to his base, or aligning with them on issues on which he has no familiarity?  He is either getting bad advise or losing his grip to some degree.  A lot of my final impression of John McCain’s candidacy rides on who he chooses for a running mate.  I’m not fond of the values of his wife — like stealing prescription medication from her non-profit charity — and the fact that they claim to be for the working man having never been in that position since the two have been married (she’s a Budweiser heiress).  I also recognize these are only fringe issues, and some shady people in personal life were extraordinarily great leaders in public life.  

I just know Sen. McCain will have to rely on people for anything economy related, which just so happens to be the most pressing issue to Americans today.  I we had instituted the draft (which we would probably have to do if we somehow picked a fight with Iran) then the war would actually be the most pressing issue to the most Americans.  Sen. McCain knows about the military, but he has also aligned to the actions of the Bush administration, which is reprehensible considering the quagmire we needlessly created.

Do we go with the more socially-rooted candidate in Hillary Clinton, whose prime causes include universal health care and the war, having voted to authorize the war in the first place.  On the issue of health care I think requires a private-public solution, removing employers from the decision-making process of which plan to buy.  If employers aren’t required to cover employees, they can pay them more, which allows employees to take the money previously paid for the same services out on to the open market.  Do this with 150 million workers at once and you will create something beautiful within the market — equilibrium.  Everyone shopping, looking for the best deal.  Multiple providers, looking to be the best business.  Let American ingenuity solve the problem if Congress can’t.

That inadequacy in Congress should end after a President who sends recommendations to Congress then vetos the bills they finally send him, saying they didn’t sent him something he could work with (after 535 people found a way to decide).  We should learn our lesson that the president shouldn’t be “the Decider” but “the Listener”.  Someone who speaks for the people.  If we were truffula trees, we’d want a Lorax. 

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Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem. -former President Ronald Reagan

Sources:  votesmart.org, congress.org

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Stop the strobe light and see the real world

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Elizabeth Edwards has written a beautiful op-ed piece for the Sunday New York Times (4/27/08) imploring the media to do its job. It seems like it should go without saying, but the media has failed the American people and democracy in general for the better part of the last decade. The media is often referred to as the 4th branch of government, because a free press acts as a check on political power. If the truth is available, it’s much harder to be hoodwinked.

The internet has been the saving grace for many Americans, who know the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is out there somewhere, just not in the mainstream media. Mrs. Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, uses the phrase “strobe-light journalism” to describe the outline-only perspective presented by the mainstream media.

…every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.

She frames the situation far better than I could, and offers a stronger voice. Although a politician’s wife is no more an expert than any blogger, this truth will receive much more airplay because of her higher profile. I don’t believe the media will actually correct this issue, mostly because “the media” is no more a homogeneous group than “the American people”. A few of the pundits and talking heads are beginning to report more on the real issues, even if they fail to point out basic inaccuracies in the positions of each candidate.

For example, John McCain is able to freely attack Barack Obama over his proposal to raise the capital gains tax. I have yet to hear any journalist correct the statements of McCain, although they frequently play the statement and ponder “will this hurt Obama?” It will if nobody speaks the truth. First take a look at Sen. McCain’s attack on Obama.

Senator Obama says that he doesn’t want to raise taxes on anybody over — making over $200,000 a year, yet he wants to nearly double the capital gains tax. Nearly double it, which 100 million Americans have investments in — mutual funds, 401(k)s — policemen, firemen, nurses. He wants to increase their taxes.

Millions of Americans have investments, most have jobs. The problem is that someone making a living from investments alone end up paying half the taxes of the working people. Low capital gains taxes make investments available to more Americans, but most Americans aren’t making more money to invest. Lower capital gains taxes do benefit average Americans to some degree, but the wealthy to a far greater degree. A post at the DailyKos points out just how fundamentally wrong McCain is on this issue.

Investments contained in 401-K’s (Or in the case of ‘policemen, firemen’ usually a 403-B), pensions, IRAs, tax deferred variable annuities, and similar retirement vehicles aren’t subject to capital gains tax — they’re not taxed at all. Changing the capital gains tax rate will have zero effect on them. Withdrawals from tax deferred accounts by retirees are generally taxed at whatever the income tax rate is for that person at the time of withdrawal (Which, incidentally, is usually a hell of a lot more than the current long term capital gains tax rate, yet another way to rip off the middle class).

Many may dismiss anything from the DailyKos, but anyone with an understanding of our tax code and economy can confirm. Of course, people in the mainstream media discredit “far-left” bloggers at the DailyKos and other sites. The problem is, someone isn’t coming clean, and any deeper research reveals it’s the media. Many bloggers can be wrong about their facts, but they can also hyperlink ’til their heart’s content, allowing anyone reading the story to see the sources. Unfortunately, there exists no such option for the mainstream media. They quote and cite themselves as the expert, and we’re asked to accept it as fact.

I’ve always considered myself a moderate, although I’m sure many would call shenanigans. It’s just harder and harder to maintain any moderate views when our democracy has been so hijacked by ideologues who give most conservatives a bad reputation. A recent poll shows that 53% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, which I consider a shame, even though I admit I would like to see a Democrat win in November. A two-party system is divisive in some ways, but it can be divisive to the point of stalemate when the media decides to pick sides and report as a two-party media.

Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker both deserve some serious credit for putting recent comments by Reverend Wright into real context, as I try to point out any time I see the truth told on TV. On today’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, both attempted to point out that Barack Obama has never aligned himself with the views of Reverend Wright. If he ever had, he’d already be out of this race. We know his pastor and his bowling score, now if only we didn’t have to look so hard for his positions on the issues.

Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties. – Elizabeth Edwards

Some of Barack Obama’s accomplishments (UPDATED 09.09.08)

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The most interesting thing of this breakdown, for me, is the idea of anyone purchasing firearms to meet with a law enforcement officer. On one hand I would think many gun owners and certainly those who make gun owner’s rights a key voting issue are not opposed to law enforcement. Those who tote guns and hate authority aren’t always voting, I presume. I could be wrong.

At the same time the Founding Fathers’ intent with the 2nd Amendment truly was to protect us from the government. In fact, the entire Bill of Rights is comprised of protections from the government. Many Americans confuse this to mean it also protects them from private citizens. I can certainly put a metal detector in the front of my building to prevent people from carrying in firearms, I can limit your freedom of speech by cutting you off on my privately-owned radio station. There are many times I find citizens confusing the Bill of Rights to be a list of protections from everyone.

  • He has also worked on death penalty reform in Illinois, for example the mandatory recording of all interrogations of suspects in capital crimes. Requiring recordings when the death penalty on the line is always going to be in the best interest of justice.
  • After all Senator McCain’s years in the Senate fighting lobbyists and standing up against earmarks, it was Senator Obama, along with Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to reform ethics and lobbying in Washington. I respect Senator McCain’s efforts, but this proves criticisms that Barack Obama hasn’t reached across the aisle or worked on any landmark legislation are blatantly false. In an election season where even the Republicans claim to be selling change, ethics reform and limiting lobbyists’ access to legislators are a major action for positive change.
  • Another part of the bipartisan effort with Sen. Coburn would create an internet database of federal spending. This is a great step for transparency and true accountability in government. I don’t know how anyone could really be against such a thing, especially in an age when the amount of pork-barrel spending nationally is estimated to be $29 billion.  Senator McCain is lying through his teeth when he says Obama has not reached across the aisle, as McCain was also a co-sponsor of the Obama-Coburn bill.  [Gov. Palin says this would be a great idea, which explains how she could be ignoring Obama’s bi-partisan efforts.  It would Governor, something like usaspending.gov perhaps?  $223 million of which was sent to Alaska to build a ramp to an aborted Bridge to Nowhere.  When you say “thanks, but no thanks” you should also give the money back.]
  • Washington State for Obama 08 also has a great pdf flyer available for download here, it details his work during his years in the state and federal government. Rather than spin and punditry, here’s what he’s worked for and gotten accomplished.

During his time in the United States Senate, Obama has co-authored two landmark pieces of legislation.  One of Obama’s major credits is a bipartisan ethics reform bill.  Oddly enough he’s running to change Washington’s lack of ethics and respect for the American people.  His critics say he hasn’t worked across the aisle, and that his views of changing Washington are a “fairy tale” and yet his record speaks for itself.

If this election is going to be about reform and change, you *could* look at Senator McCain as a reformer and a maverick. This is what I saw in him back in 2000 when I helped campaign for him in Kansas. But I’ve also paid attention the last five years or so when John McCain obliterated his maverick reputation by voting with the Bush administration and cronies 90% of the time. But in “only 2 years” as the Republicans are quick to point out about Obama, he has passed bi-partisan ethics reform and worked to secure loose nukes. If John McCain had sponsored the loose nukes bill, we’d have heard all about how it was part of his strength in the War on Terror. Instead you have every conservative pundit with access screaming that he hasn’t worked across the aisle, calling the two instances of his bi-partisan efforts “insignificant“. When America sees Washington as corrupt and broken, it’s going to be hard to brush aside an ethics reform bill.

OpenCongress has a great comparison site of the current legislative projects of each candidate.  There are other sites tracking the legislative accomplishments of Senator Obama.  They make an interesting point to say that this does not include anything prior to elected office, where recent statements by the faux-maverick extremist VP nominee have spotlighted one of America’s best traditions.  Community organizers are probably the selfless example of people working to improve the lives of others we can find in American society.  What has Sarah Palin ever done to help the lives of struggling Americans in the communities hardest hit by the Republican “you’re on your own” economy? And what does she have against the Civil Rights Movement?

The Nation has a great article on his community organizing years, when I think he proved and shaped himself all at once. At 24, a recent Columbia grad headed to a community devastated by steel-mill closings to make a difference in people’s lives. There’s no way on earth you could accuse him of making the decision based on money and yet people seem to treat this experience much like I’ve found people treat teachers. When was the last time you heard “oh, he’s just a lawyer” or “she’s just a doctor”, but somehow “just a teacher” is a pretty common phrase even among people speaking directly to teachers. Community organizing is as noble as any other service profession, and all of them should be more respected in our society. There’s not much admirable about a stock broker, especially in these tough days.

Perhaps Barack Obama’s greatest accomplishment of all was having the insight and willingness to face the harsh criticism as he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. Cite the surge all you want, it wouldn’t have been necessary to further drain American blood and treasure in the first place had it not been for the unjust war.  He was correct that it would divert our attention from the real enemy. He was correct that it was based on false assumptions and Bush administration propaganda.

Here is Obama’s Blueprint for Change, direct from the campaign. Or check out Barack Obama’s positions, issue by issue.

The War in Iraq
The Job Market
Education
Health Care
Energy
Foreign Policy
Technology & Innovation
Women’s Rights
Faith
Veteran’s Issues
Ethics
The Environment
Israel
Latino Issues

Everything in moderation, here I stand

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One of the biggest gripes I have with the climate of modern politics is that the moment you reveal one position on one issue, you are labeled. You can either be a flag waving, gun toting, Bible thumping, English-only speaking conservative or a soy burger eating, latte drinking, secular, high society liberal. It seems like nobody ever recognizes that everyone as wildly differing views, and don’t fit so nicely in those categories we’re given.

John Adams, one of my political heroes, essentially lost his second term for not being partisan enough. He refused to line up before the issue was at hand. I believe in much the same. I also believe it is possible to get America and Congress specifically to where very few things remain on the docket. It may sound idealistic or even absurd, but I believe that is what the Founding Fathers intended by the phrase ‘to form a more perfect Union’ in the Preamble to the Constitution. I wanted to write out just what my positions are on specific issues. This is based on the organization of issues at glassbooth.org with some variations.

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On Abortion and Birth Control

  • I support a woman’s right to choose because they are always the most informed on the situation and the realities of a child being brought into the world and their own health concerns. I would also urge the federal government to leave this issue to the states, this is an example of the power of federalism.
  • I support emergency contraception because it is simple, early, safer and to be blunt the earth has a population problem. The United States doesn’t feel that problem, but it exists.
  • I support abstinence and sex education, with an emphasis on sexually-transmitted diseases. Children tend to do the opposite of what you tell them. Don’t just tell them not to, tell them why not and how to be safe if they disobey. It’s called mitigation, much more effective than the all-or-nothing policy of abstinence-only education.

On Civil Liberties

  • I support extending habeas corpus to Guantanamo Bay detainees, knowing the crimes of the accused will not harm national security.
  • I oppose waterboarding and any form of physical or psychological torture, first on the grounds that the counter-terrorism community believes it is ineffective in retrieving actionable intelligence. Especially in a ticking-time-bomb scenario, we need something that produces results. Torture simply undermines democracy.

On Crime and Punishment

  • I support the death penalty as a matter of federal concern, again I believe individual states should decide.
  • I support a drastic rethinking of the drug war, marijuana scheduling and decriminalization. Non-violent drug offenders should not end up in prison, rehab maybe.
  • I oppose mandatory minimum sentencing, instead I support the implementation of Initiative, Referendum and Recall in every state so that judges may be recalled if they do something against the interests of the public. The criticisms of this system are the same as when it began here in Arizona in 1912. That should tell you something, and as a resident, it works. Propositions brought up by the people allow us to offer legislation, which is especially useful in areas where politicians may fear backlash for proposing or voting for divisive legislation.

On Education

  • I support the elimination of the Department of Education thereby eliminating the No Child Left Behind Act, electing to trust the states to use their own existing education departments to compete with each other.
  • I oppose funding schools based on property tax in the area, this is de facto segregation an serves to create socio-economically segregated schools. With all funding coming from the state level, all schools within a district should receive the same amount per pupil and districts with more schools should be given bonuses. This would discourage branching-off to favor one or a smaller group of schools. There is a school within 5 miles of University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play that doesn’t have maps in its social studies classrooms.
  • I strongly support across-the-board raises for schoolteachers, progressively based on level (elementary, middle, secondary). There is absolutely no reason teachers shouldn’t be able to afford to live in whatever neighborhood they are teaching in, on their own salary. Teachers across this country are many of the ones facing losing their homes due to predatory lending and yes, false optimism on the teacher’s part.
  • I oppose standardized tests at the national level. States should be free to do as they please in this regard, but I ask this question: are the tests in the poor schools the same as the ones in the wealthy schools? It’s interesting we put them on the same scale, but not in the same building.
  • I oppose vouchers for education. The biggest problem with vouchers is the disparity in cost between your average private school and the amount these vouchers would grant. In Arizona, private schools’ tuition averages about $6,000-9,000 per year. Schools are only paid on average just shy of $4000 per student, per year. Anyone with another few grand can easier afford to send their children to nice schools, but poor families who have no way to pay or transport their children are out of luck.
  • I oppose merit-based pay. There is no fair way of brokering this system. Teachers who inherit stronger students (affluent areas with less crime, strong feeder schools) are at an advantage. This would only serve to discourage any teacher from looking to work in areas in highest need of teachers.
  • I support a period of mandatory public service for youth. When you feel like you own the house, you take better care. It’s the same with a nation, everyone should take part in building it and making it better.

On Environment and Energy

  • I support taking action to reduce the impact of Americans on the environment. Preliminary debate should be aimed at collecting the issues which establish consensus, such as gaining energy independence. Not only would renewable energy sources stabilize our economy and create jobs, but also reduce fossil fuel dependence (if not emissions).
  • I support pushing for international consensus points on the issue of environmental friendliness. Begin with broad and basic examples, and work with the international community on a truly global problem.
  • I support a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, where businesses may purchase carbon credits to offset emissions. It would really do nothing but push money in different directions, but it would reward those who are best on the environment. In my eyes these are well aligned incentives.
  • I support the pursuit of nuclear energy. We’ve got to get past stigma and phobias to realize, cleaner is better than dirty and dependent. We should always be working toward the best, most efficient and cleanest energy sources available. The problem is becoming complacent.
  • I strongly support a drastic effort to improve public transit, not only within urban centers but also interstate. There is no reason we cannot have bullet trains and an alternative to the airlines, one that doesn’t take days to reach a destination or confine us on a small bus with odd people.
  • I support increased fuel standards for automobiles in the United States. If only to make sure the domestic auto companies can compete, because in reality we’re getting killed in the auto market. It isn’t really even wise to buy an American car if you truly want to make the best purchase for your own self-interest.

On Gay Rights

  • I support civil unions for gay couples. I wouldn’t oppose gay marriage in any way, I just know this issue is the kind of thing that will require baby steps to overcome the hypocrisy in any “separate but equal” government stance.
  • I support extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples, to strengthen those families. They are, in fact, families. They shouldn’t worry about custody or inheritance if one dies simply because they aren’t a traditional couple.

On Gun Control

  • I support background checks for the purchase of firearms. This is just a matter of conscience. Our government keeps better tabs on people buying fertilizer than guns. I don’t think it should go any further, but making sure people aren’t violent criminals isn’t too much to ask.
  • I oppose a ban on assault rifles. “When guns are outlawed, outlaws will brandish cologne.” Did I get that right? No, that was Dave Barry, but I do think that if we outlaw assault rifles then the only people who will have them will be true violent criminals.

On Health Care

  • I support a universal system of health care. I believe that modern technology and government transparency will make this system work. The exact same people will be doing the diagnosis, treatment and surgical procedures so I don’t understand why people think the service would crumble. The truth is, you can go to Canada, you can ask a Canadian. They will tell you, their system works and people are happier and healthier. This would have collateral effects far beyond just health care.
  • I believe the government involvement in health care would help to bring costs down, because the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be able to swarm such a large group at once.

On Immigration

  • I support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants existing this country. The process of deportation would be lengthy and expensive.
  • I support deportation of all illegal immigrants convicted of a felony. With some exceptions, such as known gang members with a history of deportation and re-entry.
  • I oppose a physical fence along the US-Mexico border. Barriers don’t keep people out, they keep you in. Whether you realize it or not, this kind of thing will make us no safer but will speak volumes to the rest of the world and future generations. A border fence would only bolster the human smuggling trade and send business into a dangerous criminal cartel.
  • I oppose making English the official language in the United States. This is frivolous and sort-of xenophobic, and would only create problems getting care or court services. We should instead be mandating all American school children learn two or even three languages throughout their school years, beginning in elementary school.

On Iraq and Foreign Policy

  • I support beginning withdrawal of troops from the war in Iraq and a shift in focus to Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.
  • I support the President urging China to cease selling weapons to those committing genocide in Sudan and urge Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama.
  • I support a lifelong commitment to the health and mental well-being of anyone who enlists in the military.
  • I support a foreign policy of tackling all issues diplomatically. I’m tired of presidents who think 4,000 dead American servicemen is better than even trying to a conversation with an adversary.
  • I support multi-lateralism in every major global action, through the United Nations or NATO.
  • I support using foreign aid to combat poverty and disease, and to provide business opportunity through microcredit loans.
  • I support ending the trade embargo with Cuba and beginning a new era of relations with our neighbor ninety miles from Florida.

On Medical Marijuana and Drug Policy

  • I support doctors making marijuana available for medical use. Many medical professionals would put their years of education and professional reputation on the line for something that millions of Americans believe should be legal for medical purposes.
  • I oppose federal raids on sick or dying patients prescribed medical marijuana, and their health care providers. This is cowardice and going after the lowest man on the totem pole.
  • I oppose the wasteful War on Drugs. The money only creates a giant bureaucracy and a court and prison system flooded with non-violent drug offenders, costing the taxpayers billions.
  • I support the rescheduling of marijuana, from Schedule I to Schedule III on the federal drug scheduling system. Compare for yourself.

Schedule I

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Examples: Heroin, LSD, Marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy), methaqualone (Quaalude)

Schedule III

  • The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Examples: Anabolic steroids, ketamine (Special K), synthetic THC (Marinol)

On Social Security

  • I support privatizing social security. While simply stopping the highway robbery of the social security trust fund would probably right the ship, privatizing is more American. To be honest, nearly everything needs competition. Everything that isn’t a matter of true government concern. I think the government is more responsible for promoting a healthy population than for giving them peanuts by garnishing their grandchildren’s paychecks during retirement, but that’s me.
  • I oppose raising the earnings cap on social security. The more you make, the less you need social security for retirement.

On Taxes and Budget

  • I support the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service in favor of a Fair Tax system, which generates the same revenues by taxing consumption rather than income. The dumbest thing America does is tax the one thing it needs every able-bodied American to do, work. We don’t tax rampant consumption aside from marginal sales taxes, which often create negative externalities which tax dollars must address. Under the Fair Tax, you can make as much money as you want with no increase in tax due to income. Read more about the Fair Tax.
  • I support an amendment requiring Congress and the President to balance the federal budget every year.

On Trade and Economics

  • I support free trade with few restrictions. Trade can be the most powerful vehicle for positive change in the world, we must always prepare for creative destruction.
  • I oppose any increase in the federal minimum wage. This generally only leads to more inflation with little actual benefit in the long run. In the short run hours are usually cut, so the benefit is moot.
  • I support many government subsidies for farmers, however I believe fruits and vegetables are disgustingly underrepresented(around 3% of overall subsidies). This relates to illegal immigration as well, because if we subsidized fruits and vegetables more we might be able to attract American workers to pick strawberries in California or lettuce in Arizona. Just a thought.
  • I support normal trade and diplomatic relations with China. Our President should, however, continually be urging Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama and make visible strides in the area of human rights.

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Let me know if there’s anything I should add to this list, and feel free to discuss my stances. You don’t need to waste your time just to attack, but reasoned debate is very welcome.

Written by unastronaut

April 15, 2008 at 10:31 am

Posted in barack obama, Blogroll, current events, Economics, economy, education, election, government, hillary clinton, illegal immigration, iraq war, john mccain, kiva, microcredit, philosophy, Politics, ron paul, vote 2008

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