Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin and the Presidency

I don't know a better way to respond to the comments substantively than promoting them to the front page. I hope my commenters don't mind...

OK Dan. Obviously last week I agreed whole-heartedly with you. Now, I'm in the McCain camp, and you can thank Sarah Palin for that.
I've also been putting a lot of thought into what the Biblical role of government should be. Is it really to be a provider? Shouldn't the church be doing that? Shouldn't we be afraid of a government that becomes so large that it could take everything away from us? Shouldn't we care about our national security enough to elect somebody that has a proven record of defending our freedom?

Maybe I'm one of those people that is easliy tossed about by the waves of politial hype...but I always kind of knew in the back of my head that I was being rebellious by supporting Obama...I'm not convinced he has my best interests in mind, I now have a hard time with the idea that by voting for him, I'm aligning myself with the downright nasty far-left liberal press, like the writers for the Huffington Post that smeared Sarah Palin's daughter for being pregnant - as if it's any of their business what happens in her family.

McCain's choice of Palin, in my opinion, shows that he is one that is not afraid to buck the establishment of Washington. The guy really is a Maverick and an American Hero. I want him represrenting me and fighting for my freedom. Can't wait for his speech tonight. I'll be praying for your mind to change! :) (Just kidding. I respect your opinion. Keep up the discussion!)

Travis, first, thanks for writing and for what you said a few posts ago. Sarah and I appreciate your support and interest. There are a lot of interesting points here. I will answer a few, in a spirit of frankness and friendship. Nothing I say next is meant to offend, I just call it like I see it.


I think it would be good to judge McCain's vice-presidential pick in the fullness of time. There are substantial reasons that I disapprove of Palin as a presidential pick. They go far beyond her private life.

The most obvious reason for me is a scandal called "Troopergate", where it is fairly obvious and well-reported that:
  1. Palin abused her office as governor to try to get an enemy of her family fired
  2. then fired the Public Safety Commissioner when he wouldn't fire said enemy (a state trooper)
  3. when the fired guy came forward, Palin denied everything, then was forced to change her story when hard evidence came out (one of the conversations was recorded)
  4. then (arguably) interfered with the congressional investigation of her abuse of power, and
  5. has now lawyered up and refused to testify to the same investigation.
If you can get past the left-leaning polemic, you can read a pretty concise description of all this in more detail, as part of a post here. The investigation is currently scheduled to release its findings just before the election. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it in the coming weeks.

On a more general level, I think Palin is not, realistically, ready to be President. That's what we ask of the Vice President. A couple of months ago, she said she didn't really want the VP job
"until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day. I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here. ..."
If she didn't know what the VP does, how can we possibly think she's ready to be President?

A few months ago, she had no real position on the Iraq troop surge, preferring to talk in platitudes:
Alaska Business Monthly: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting?

Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy. I am very, very proud of the troops we have in Alaska, those fighting overseas for our freedoms, and the families here who are making so many sacrifices.

I had a position on the troop surge (it was all hat and no cattle; no political gains in Iraq have been seen; American soldiers dying for short-term gains in physical security), and I was just making software. The real point for me is that this lady does not have awareness of the world around her. She is not curious about a subject that marched up and down the front pages for months. Yes, she will get coached to agree with John McCain's policy positions, but... I'll make a prediction, she makes a foreign policy gaffe, a real howler, in the near future (I'd say the next two, three weeks but I don't know when the McCain campaign is going to let reporters start talking to her). And she'll do it because she has never really been interested in this stuff.

We have already had an incurious, ignorant, inexperienced, showy, jes folks governor in a Presidential election, and it has been a pure nightmare for our foreign policy. We have lost our standing in the world and the moral high ground, not to mention blood and treasure. Sarah Palin is fool me twice; we should not do this again. (Watch the video where Campbell Brown lays into Tucker Bounds of the McCain campaign, asking what foreign policy experience or qualifications to be Commander in Chief Sarah Palin has. Spoiler: none, which makes the four-minute video quite entertaining in a painful sort of way.)

That's why I don't like the Palin pick, for starters... but no one really knows how deep the rabbit hole goes on Palin, because she was not vetted deeply by the McCain campaign before she was picked. There have been an explosion of stories in the last week on Palin because she was a complete unknown. Everyone wants to know about her, so everything is news.

(Special bonus video: Republicans on MSNBC caught talking off-mike about the Palin pick. Includes a swear.)


I too prefer to focus on substantive issues, not who's having whose baby. Focusing on the bad behavior of the fringes, though, Travis, is no way to decide what "side" you prefer to be on. I don't tar pro-life people with the same brush that I do the terrorists who bomb abortion clinics; you shouldn't tar Democrats, liberals, progressives with the same brush that you do the scandal-mongers at Huffington Post (especially when Obama said specifically that no one should be doing these kinds of stories).

And let me point out that "by voting for him, I'm aligning myself with the downright nasty far-left liberal press" has an equal and opposite argument; if you vote for McCain, you're on the side of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Karl Rove... you can read all the nasty quotes from them you want on Here's a famous one from Coulter:
  • Of course I regret it. I should have added 'after everyone had left the building except the editors and the reporters.'
Don't let irresponsible journalists on either side of the political divide cloud the real issues.


The role of government is a real issue. Here's an example that comes to mind often in this context. There are plenty of statistics that bear out my position that the health insurance industry shows signs of too little government involvement (and that's an understatement). If you have a catastrophic health event without health insurance, you'll lose your home and all your money. It's the leading cause of bankruptcy in America. It's a system that lets unfortunate people drown when they fall off the boat. The profit motive is screwing with health outcomes that would have been otherwise if care had been granted. There is no profit for the insurance industry in waking up and caring for more people, so the system is hardly likely to change now because of market pressure.

In general, churches don't provide you with insurance if you have none. Churches don't pay those bankruptcy-level medical bills for each of its members. There are some issues that are too big for one community to solve, that demand collective action.

The government's role, I think, is not to create so-called fair systems (like laissez-faire markets) and watch people sink or swim within them (and when they sink, say, "the system chewed you up and spat you out, you must not have been good enough, all's fair"). The federal government can improve systems and should step in when any system goes haywire, be it the regulation of energy traders (see Enron), accountants (Arthur Andersen), oil companies (profiteering), military contractors (Halliburton), pollutants (Clean Air Act), subprimes... deregulation or lax regulation in all these arenas has damaged the public good to the profit of a few. When we all say no to that, we want the government to lay down those laws.

Am I in favor of a strong central government? I am not in favor of wholesale surveillance and the erosion of privacy; I am not in favor of unaccountable strong police powers; I am not in favor of the unaccountable unitary executive being able to ignore the legislature on national security. To my mind, there is a big difference between having effective, nationwide (even nationalized?) social programs and having effective, nationwide social control. Somehow the Republicans became in favor of the latter and opposed to the former. I think that's upside down and we need to change it.

As for McCain on national security... that will have to wait for next time. Another can of worms.


Rev. Don Spitz said...

You seem to imply there is something wrong if a babykilling abortion mill is burned or bomb. Which do you prefer, a pile of bricks or a pile of dead babies? Innocent unborn babies deserve to be protected just as born children deserve to be protected. You would have no problem protecting born children if they were about to be murdered.
SAY THIS PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and am headed to eternal hell because of my sins. I believe you died on the cross to take away my sins and to take me to heaven. Jesus, I ask you now to come into my heart and take away my sins and give me eternal life.

travis said...

Hey Dan,

Don't worry - no offense taken. We all have issues that are important to us and the difficulty lies in choosing which issues are the most important. Regarding Sarah Palin, it's true she hasn't been in the Senate for 30+ years like Biden has, but I think the media is too quick to discount her experience as governor. The experience argument can't fly if you're comparing her to Obama. He doesn't have a lot of experience either, so we either need to be fair and criticize them both for their seeming lack of experience, or we need to let it go. What accomplishments of Obama can you point to other than some inspiring speeches or memoirs? For any of his one accomplishments, I'm sure you could point to multiple accomplishments of Palin. And let us also not forget that Palin is only running for VP, and Obama is running for head honcho. True, there seems to be some shadyness looming around her, so we will need to re-evaluate when we have all the facts.

To respond to Rev. Don Spitz...we've had a Republican administration for 8 years, and abortion is still legal and commonplace. Even Obama wants to reduce the number of abortions. You may not agree with his means of doing so (supporting Planned Parenthood, etc), but at least it's something. We need to have a practical view of how to decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies, and maybe that can start with people like you and me doing a better job of "being the Church."

Also, I'm pretty sure that nowhere does Jesus say that only Republicans go to Heaven.

I wish I had time to write more, but I do need to try to get some actual work done today.

Dan Lewis said...

And Travis, here is Exhibit B.

I suppose it could be an amazing troll, my hat is off to you. But there is a real Don Spitz.

Rev Don Spitz, you seem to imply that I am not a Christian. You impugned my religion, because "real Christians" agree with you and I don't agree with bombing abortion clinics.

I'll pass on impugning yours, but point out that you support terrorism when it suits your purposes (and yes, violence for political purposes is the definition of terrorism, whether you think it's justified or not).

As for my position on abortion, I've covered it many times in the past, including just recently. Use the blog search if you really care.

Meanwhile, tell me the meaning of this passage:
"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."
1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Sarah L. said...

Let me start out this comment by saying first that I too hate that abortions happen, and I wish there was a catch all that would stop them. But the sad truth is, even if abortions became illegal, it wouldn't stop them. People would find other ways to have them done. Just like people find other ways to get illegal drugs. It might cut down on how many abortions are happening, but it won't stop them. We'd be kidding ourselves if we thought it did. It seems that we all want someone to step into the role of president and solve all of the worlds problems, and that just won't happen. I agree along the lines of what Travis said. If we really want to see abortion stop, then we the people and the churches need to step up a bit. What can WE do to help educate people, give them better options? I don't think, however, that bombing abortion clinics solves the problem either... when does violence solve, anything???

Dan Lewis said...

And Travis... he authored important legislation.

Obama sent around a fact-check of Palin's speech. Search for this text in it, the text of Palin's speech that the Obama people are responding to:
"But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate".

You will find information next to that statement about the 2007 Ethics Reform Law by Obama and Feingold, which decreased the influence of lobbyists. The Illinois Gift ban, a sweeping ethics reform in the Illinois state senate. The Cooperative Proliferation Detection Act with Dick Lugar on nuclear nonproliferation. More stuff on government transparency and health care for veterans...

Palin's speech was not exactly forthright when it came to Obama's record... take what candidates on both sides say with a grain of salt, because the spinning is just beginning.

travis said...

I can't wait for the debates...

By the way, is the Rev a real person? I'll be honest, I thought it was a joke at first.

Dan Lewis said...

He is real, unfortunately... Google him for the details. It's probably worse than you can imagine from his comment.

travis said...

Oh my. His profile picture is disgusting and inappropriate.

You're right...I don't want to be aligned with people like this either.

Obama '08!