Me First or Country First? It's about the Deficit.

"Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
George Orwell (1903 - 1950), "Politics and the English Language", 1946
My family is a microcosm for the nation in this year's Presidential Election Cycle. My family consists of my parents, aunts and uncles who are the oldest babyboomers and pre-babyboomers; my brothers and cousins who are the youngest babyboomers and oldest among Generation X, and my nieces and nephews and youngest cousins who are among Generation Y. My family also spans the nation geographically and economically. We live in the rust belt, the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, California, the East, the Southeast and the West. We represent Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Oshkosh, Atlanta, East Lansing, Detroit, Western North Carolina, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. And we span the economic continuum from lower to upper middle class and perhaps even the lower reaches of the upper class.

It isn't surprising therefore that dissension exists among the members of my family of who to support in this year's Presidential election. My Great Aunt is such a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter that she will not speak politics to anyone who doesn't support Hillary. God only knows who she's going to vote for this year since Hillary did not win the nomination. My parents, aunts and uncles have all supported different candidates: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, John McCain. My brothers, cousins and I have supported or currently support Hillary, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Barack Obama as well, while my youngest cousins are heavily in the Obama camp.

Discussing politics with other members of my family is very much like watching political commentary on MSNBC or Fox News and listening to the surrogates of any of the candidates speak. Whoever my relative supports politically, the words used to justify the choice are hardly any different than the talking heads in the media. And I can't imagine anything more sad.

John Adams, the second President of the United States, wrote in a letter dated April 15, 1814:
Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
I think we're at that point.

In a democracy, it is incumbent on all its citizens to stay abreast of the issues that affect the country so that they can speak out and keep our politicians in check and vote intelligently on election day. Sadly, the issues of the day do not concern us nearly as much as who will win on American Idol or Dancing With the Stars. Sadly, the issues of the day are far less important to us than the latest BCS Poll. Sadly, the misbehavior of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and the ongoing Brangelina saga and the latest of Jennifer Anniston is more important to us than universal health care, improving education for our children, achieving energy independence from oil producing nations and eliminating our national debt.

I say this because we--my relatives and my fellow Americans--are letting the media do our thinking for us. Our media tell us what to think. Political pundits just rehash the same moments over and over again. They line up surrogates of either political party to spout the party line and to argue with their political opponents. We watch this on television and when we call our friends and family to discuss this, we argue with each other using the same sound bites we learned from our favorite talking head or presidential candidate spokesperson.

And even more insidious, when I call my family members to have an intelligent political discussion and get their feedback, I get yelled at with words like: "you're crazy," or "how can you be so naive?" or more phrases so insulting and so mean-spirited that I'm too embarrassed to publish them.


It's almost a quarter of a century past the year when George Orwell's prophetic 1984 nightmare was supposed to manifest itself. I ask you, has 1984 manifested itself and have we just chosen not to take notice? It's not as if 1984 hasn't been mandatory reading in every high school English curriculum since the 1960s. It's not as if most if not all babyboomers, Gen X-ers and Gen Y haven't studied 1984 and learned the lessons the classic novel has foretold. So why is it then that we all have advanced to the telescreen, especially these last two weeks of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and soaked up what we have seen and heard our candidates say and what the media has told us to think without questioning it?


If we are Barack Obama supporters, we believe he is the Messiah that will save us from all our bills by cutting our taxes, giving us free health care, and ensuring our God-given right to murder our fetuses that the inexperienced gun-toting, creationism teaching Sarah Palin would take away.

If we are John McCain supporters, we believe his war-hero status will protect our nation from the terrorist threat while he unleashes Sarah Palin to fight corruption in Washington, reform the city and white-wash it to become that shining city on the hill of the Reaganites while protecting the rights of all embryos whether they are wanted or not, whether they were conceived in love or in violence.

Hockey Mom Sarah Palin accepts a Stanley Cup Championship Detroit Red Wings Sweater in Detroit--possibly the biggest slam-dunk no-brainer political move EVER in Michigan.

NEWSFLASH: The thing is though, all four candidates are flawed in their own ways. Our two-party system of government is broken and needs reform. There are serious issues that face our nation socially and economically and in their respective campaigns to get elected to the highest office in the land, neither candidate--presidential or vice-presidential--is being honest with us as Americans. The candidates are just playing politics as usual, doing what they need to do, saying what they need to say to get our votes and win this year's biggest reality show prize.

Barack Obama is an inexperienced politican, gifted with oratory to inspire crowds, but with no real understanding of the most important economic issue that faces our country's future who has questionable friends and allies.

Democrats can't be happy to see this ad highlighting Barack Obama's connection to Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, whose home was once the site of an Obama campaign event. But this indictment is not a smear; it's the simple truth. And it's something Obama has an obligation to address.

Some questions he needs to answer: Did he know about Ayers' violent past when they become friends and associates? Is he willing to release all available records about their connection?
By Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune
Joe Biden is a career Washington insider who has been rejected twice by Americans in the Presidential Primaries of 2004 and 2008. What makes Barack Obama feel the Americans want him one heartbeat away from the Presidency?

John McCain is a war hero and honorable man who loves America, claims to be a maverick and has in the past fought the establishment in Washington, but who recently has voted with President Bush 90% of the time--to gain the trust of the Republican party so that he could position himself for a run at the Presidency.

Sarah Palin, the only candidate with executive office experience, is so right-wing that she has made no secret of her desire to teach creationism and intelligent design in the public schools--flying in the face of all science and is a staunch right-to-lifer, even in the case of rape or incest. Still, she's the only candidate who has truly reached across party lines in appointing the best people to get the job done regardless of party in her own state government. And she's the only one of the four who has a record of fighting corrupt politicans in her own party and reforming government.
"Vote for the man who promises least. He'll be the least disappointing."
-Bernard Baruch
What a choice. What a group of candidates. What a group of issues they all represent. And yet, none of them are addressing the biggest issue that faces us as a nation in this year's election and in the future of our country: the deficit. Our growing national debt is already enslaving our generation to an economy that's spiraling out of control. The last President to eliminate the deficit was Bill Clinton. That's the biggest reason why I remain a Hillary Clinton supporter. I believe that under Hillary Clinton, we could have reigned in our spiraling deficit. I am absolutely afraid that neither Obama nor McCain are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to bring our deficit under control. And as long as we continue to borrow from the future, we will never be able to commit the resources necessary to solve other social issues.

That being said, who is best positioned to address the unique set of problems presented by our spiraling deficit? I don't think it's the Democrats or Barack Obama, at least not this time around. As the following analysis from March 12, 2007 indicates, the democrats are likely to increase the debt, not reduce it. And this is exactly what has come to pass over a year and a half later.
Congressional Democrats are poised to take the politically uncomfortable but unavoidable step of raising again the federal debt ceiling, using the budget process to increase the nation's credit limit even though they had hammered Republicans for making the same move in previous years.

Amid growing anticipation of the 2008 budget proposals from the chairmen who will navigate the path to conference, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), the ticking clock of the federal debt lmit has gone largely unnoticed. But the current ceiling of about $9 trillion is likely to be his this fall, according to the Bush administration. Although any further raise has the potential to spark partisan and inter-chamber conflict, Congress must pass the hike to prevent the government from defaulting on its debt.

In a March 2 letter to the Senate Budget panel's leaders, the Senate Finance Committee's two senior members urged that Congress raise the debt ceiling through the budget reconciliation process.

"We recommend that the budget resolution include reconciliation increase this statutory limit," wrote Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

In the closely divided Senate, where Republicans have already slowed down several popular measures, the reconciliation process would block a filibuster of the debt-ceiling bill and shield it from contentious amendments. AT the same time, going the reconciliation route would prevent House Democrats from using the "Gephardt Rule," a tactic that allows the lower chamber to raise the ceiling without taking a roll-call vote that could turn into attack-ad fodder next year.

Whether it's the House or the Senate that takes the brunt of the burden on whipping a vote to raise the debt limit, attacks from Republicans eager to exploit any cracks in the Democrats' fiscal discipline are a near certainty.

"The debt limit vote always becomes a carnival for the opposition party," said Brian Riedl, budget analyst at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation. "The opposition always uses the vote to bludgeon the majority, and this year will be no different."

Anticipating that criticism, Democrats are employing a response similar to the message they used during the continuing resolution debate earlier this year. They preemptively blasted detractors of that spending measure by condemning GOP leaders for "leaving a mess" by failing to finish the appropriations cycle during the 109th Congress.

"It would be very difficult for anyone to say that reaching the public debt limit this close to a Democratic takeover of Congress had anything to do with Democratic policies," one House Democratic aide said. "There will be some who will make that argument...but their politics drove us to this point. We're working to make it better."

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Conrad pointed a finger at the president, saying via email: "It is his borrow-and-spend policies that have resulted in the massive buildup of debt.

"Fortunately, Democrats are working to take this country in a better direction, one that restores fiscal responsibility," Conrad added. "But it will take time to change Republican policies that have exploded deficits and debt."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democratic leaders blasted Republicans at the dawn of the 108th Congress when they reinstated the Gephardt Rule after trumpeting its removal during the previous session. In another sign of things to come, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) signaled during his 2006 leadership campaign that he would push for a roll-call vote on all future debt limit hikes.

One Republican aide forecast that the House would invoke Gebpardt and use its budget resolution to increase the debt celing, the fifth hike needed since President Bush took office.

"Having reconciliation instructions gives us the option to pursue that if we choose," the GOP aide said. "But historically, we've not done it. We take up the path of least resistance...If I were making predictions, we'll wait until the very last day that Treasury says the current limit will last, and the Senate will pass the House-passed bill."

Robert Bixby, chairman of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan budget-analysis group, said he would urge a recorded vote in both houses.
"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress." --John Adams
"It gives Congress an opportunity to assess the consequences of past actions," Bixby said. "having it go up automatically, while it's politically convenient, avoids accountability for fiscal policy decisions. If Democrats really wanted to stick to their prior rhetoric, they should have an explicit vote."

Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) appeared to reference the Gephardt route in his own letter ot the Budget panel.

"The committee notes that it has been the practice of the House to pass a resolution raising the debt ceiling to the level necessary to accommodate the assumptions for its first fiscal year," Rangel wrote.

Both Spratt and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) declined through their offices to comment on which option Democrats currently favor to raise the limit.

The vote may be especially tough for Democratic presidential hopefuls such as Sens Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. The latter gave a floor speech last spring vilifying the higher credit limit. "Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren," Obama said. "America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership."
Visit the U.S. National Debt Clock

And yet, the debt continues to rise. Currently, the national debt stands at $9.67 trillion. That's $670 billion more than the new $9 trillion debt ceiling Congress feared having to commit to just a year and a half ago.

So even though Barack Obama made a speech--fancy that--in March 2006 regarding the growing deficit:
“The cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and states of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on. . . . If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we'd see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies.”
He has not demonstrated any leadership in this regard or put forth a plan to date to achieve deficit reduction and a balanced budget.

Meanwhile, John McCain proposes to balance the budget and eliminate the deficit by 2013 through a comprehensive plan that includes:
Comprehensive Spending Controls: John McCain will institute broad reforms to control spending:

* The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.

* A one-year spending pause. Freeze non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending for a year and use those savings for deficit reduction. A one-year pause in the growth of discretionary spending will be imposed to allow for a comprehensive review of all spending programs. After the completion of a comprehensive review of all programs, projects and activities of the federal government, we will propose a plan to modernize, streamline, consolidate, reprioritize and, where needed, terminate individual programs.

* Take back earmark funds. The McCain Administration will reclaim billions of add-on spending from earmarks and add-ons in FY 2007 and 2008.
Read about both economic plans more thoroughly at both John McCain's Website and Barack Obama's Website.


So where does that leave us as a nation and what choice do we have? When it comes to our votes this November, we have a choice to either vote for our own self-interest or the best interests of our country. Essentially, if you are so concerned about pro-life issues, so afraid that your children will be subjected to creationism in the class-room, so afraid that John McCain will die in office and Sarah Palin--a proven executive--will ascend to the presidency in less than four years, and so afraid that John McCain will do what is necessary to end the war in Iraq and so afraid that health care an education and other issues that need to be focused on will be neglected by our government, vote for Obama. Even though Obama is promising tax cuts, it should be very clear now that there can be no real tax cut while our deficit continues to spiral out of control. Every policy that Obama puts forth will require new spending. Just where are those dollars going to come from while Obama gives you a tax cut and how is he possibly going to be able to make inroads in our national debt that he says is robbing our nation of the ability to fix our infrastructure and provide for economic security for our children and grandchildren?

However, if you believe that we need to solve the issues that face our nation as a nation first--ending once and for all our runaway deficit which will rob all of us of the ability for new social programs and infrastructure we urgently need, vote for John McCain. Who in the process will commit our country to a program to end our energy dependence on foreign oil and challenge us as a nation to work in creating an alternative fuels economy that will stimulate the economy and generate millions of jobs that the McCain administration will provide resources for training and re-training programs.

Finally, many issues have been raised regarding Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin by members of my family as I referenced earlier in this post. I promised one of my cousins I would address those issues in this post. I can't think of a better way to accomplish this than a line-by-line response. Sadly, many of the arguments are little more than repetition of the so-called political analysts on MSNBC. You be the judge. Please feel free to enter the debate by adding your comments below.
Hi Matt,

Hope all is well with you!

I responded to your blog and I don't know if you saw it, but I feel really compelled to chat with you about being undecided about this election. It KILLS me that a compassionate, hardworking, outdoors loving, sincere person like you could even consider voting for a Republican ticket after the last 8 years, especially when there is such an amazing candidate, Barack Obama, in the running. I just don't understand it.

I certainly and by no means would ever tell you what to do, but I just can't understand how you could possibly identify with a woman who believes we should teach Creationism in schools has any business leading our country.
For the record, I don't identify with a woman who believes we should teach creationism. I have gone on record as saying that I am excited by what she represents--a reformer who has fought corruption in Alaska by taking on the incumbent governor, attorney general and US Senator. I am also excited that she uses a line-by-line item veto to get rid of pork spending, and that she will tax oil companies and return those taxes to the people of Alaska. If she can help John McCain do any of that in Washington, we win as a nation.

Further, it doesn't matter that she believes creationism should be taught in the public schools. Local school boards are responsible for curriculum, and should any local school board pass such a curriculum that included creationism and intelligent design, the ACLU would be all over it, it would go to court, and ultimately would be declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in that it violates separation of church and state.

Having said this, I believe world religions should be taught in the public schools in a comparative religions humanities class. I think there is a lot of ignorance out there, especially in rural America. Moving to Columbus, Ohio I heard the expressions "Jew them down," used for the first time in my life. It's an offensive statement and is stereotypical of the negative image many have for Jews and their "cheapness," which is certainly true on an individual basis, but not representative of the Jewish people. I think the lack of knowledge that's out there about Jews in America, let alone Muslims, Buddhists and others perpetuates fear. Sarah Palin's position on creationism is to teach it alongside evolution and present all the knowledge you can. I think that position is admirable in that the more that is out there, the better issues can be discussed and the more tolerant our children can be raised to be. However, as admirable as her position is in teaching both, I think in this case, her position is flawed because of separation of church and state issues. That being said, there may be room for such teachings in a comparative religions class room where there is no room for such teachings in a science class room.
Another thing I found quite terrifying in watching the Republican convention was that the entire crowd was white and mostly older. It looked to me like an Aryan race rally and I was waiting for them to start "Zeig Hail" at any moment. The crowd there simply did not represent the diverse constituency of this country (where were the asians, indians, blacks, latinos, etc.?). That is what is scary, that convention was in a bubble, a giant room full of white people acting like the last 8 years never happened and using the generic 911 scare tactics while not talking about education, health care, etc.
I could say the same thing about the Democratic Convention. For the record, there were black and latinos present in the Republican convention. Cindy McCain paraded her daughter she rescued and adopted from Bangladesh. And there were others, although many fewer, in the St. Paul crowd. But I think there was such diversity in Denver because the last night of the convention was at the Mile High Stadium, it held 70,000 people, and the public--not just delegates--were invited to attend.

Further, if you have ever visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC or West Bloomfield, Michigan, I'm sure you would have seen videos of Hitler giving speeches to the youth of Germany following their crushing defeat in World War I. After the depression that followed in Germany--in some ways analogous to the last 8 years under the Bush Administration--the people of Germany craved change. Watching Obama's speech at Mile High Stadium and the crowd go ballistic, they may have well been proclaiming Heil Hitler. That the MSNBC panel were literally dancing in their seats while Stevie Wonder performed and Pat Buchanan sported Stevie Wonder Shades just cements the effect of a carefully orchestrated media presentation meant to persuade the American people to support Obama. It wasn't news reporting. It was like a media coronation. That is just as Orwellian and as chilling as anything you imagined from the Republican convention. To quote Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, our nation's second president: "We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Let's see some results before we lose our minds in adoration.
They never uttered the words "middle class" during the convention.
They didn't need to utter the words "middle class." Sarah Palin and her husband more than acceptably represent the middle class. Sarah is the daughter of an elementary school teacher. Her family ran a commerical fishing business just as my grandparents opened and ran a drugstore. Sarah Palin understands the middle class far better than anyone that's ran for office in Washington in a very long time.
It just scares me because McCain running around saying the economy is fine. It scared me so much that they flat out lied over and over again and didn't mention any facts. Obama HAS authored bills/laws, she was LYING. There were so many more. Scary, haven't we had enough liars over the last 8 years?
The truth is, all politicians are liars and will say what they need to say to get elected to office. But I think you're letting your emotions really get the better of you.

McCain is not saying that the economy is fine. Please, give me a source where he is quoted as saying that the economy is fine. Look at the Obama website and his plan for the economy vs. the McCain Website and John McCain's plan to balance the budget and end our deficit that the Bush administration created. McCain's plan looks more realistic and credible on face. That he didn't mention any facts during the convention is not the reason to condemn the man or the party. Political conventions are about nominating the candidate and energizing the base. Where we will see all the facts and details brought out is over the next sixty days in the debates and in the campaigning and in the press--as liberal as the press is. I encourage you to take a look at the source documents and read up on them and their philosophies and see which ones are workable and detailed and which ones are pie in the sky. I think the realistic ones are on the McCain site.

Further, Sarah Palin was not lying. Obama co-authored two pieces of legislation but never championed anything on his own while he was in the Senate. He has been in the Senate for four years. Two of those years he was running for President. What legislation could he have championed for real in that time? Further, it is not lying to say that Obama published two memoirs since he arrived in the Senate. I ask you, what first term Senator publishes not one but two memoirs? Those books he published took time out of his duties in the Senate, and were used as propaganda or at least a platform for him to base his Presidential Candidacy on. Which goes to show you that four years ago when he first spoke at the Democratic National Convention and became the party's up and coming superstar, he had his eyes on the Presidency. Instead of representing his constituents in Illinois, he wrote two books to further his candidacy--taking time out of Washington fighting for his constituents which he claims is what he'll do for America. Well, he won't be fighting for all Americans if he's working on publishing more memoirs to further his reelection campaign in 2012. His public record is incredibly thin. And that's what Sarah Palin was alluding to in her speech at the RNC. And that was a very fair barb to send in Obama's direction.

I agree, we've had enough lies over the last eight years. John McCain has a reputation of being a straight talker. So does Sarah Palin. I find them both refreshing. I might not always agree with Sarah Palin's positions, but I don't believe she would lie to the American people.
In an aside, McCain is a good man with character, but he is 72. 72!
Do I understand correctly that you would discriminate against John McCain based on his age? Other than he might die at any time because of his age, it's not an issue. He appears to have all his mental faculties. His mother is 96, or maybe you missed seeing her all spry at the RNC. Seems like John McCain has a few good years left in him. Meanwhile, Kennedy was assassinated in his 40s. None of us knows how many days we have before us.
He is 2 generations out of touch, and went on the internet for the first time like a month ago. How could he possibly relate to the world of today and to the people which he supposed to represent? He is just too out of touch. If you want to talk about things on a more intuitive level, the dude has been trying to be the president for like 20 years, and he has never gotten the nom. He got it this year because he was up against people less popular than he is. If he was meant to be the president, it would have happened by now.
Actually, I have been receiving McCain's emails since 2000 when I first signed up to receive them. His campaign has always been online. 2000 was the first year John McCain ran for President and were it not for Bush family tactics that painted him poorly, especially in South Carolina, and John McCain's straight-talking style, he probably would have beat out Bush for the nomination in 2000. I really don't think McCain is out of touch. He's always bucked his own party a bit. The reason he has voted almost 90% alongside Bush the last four years is because he's needed to be regarded as more mainstream by the Republican party in order to have any chance to get the nomination. If he stayed a maverick, which is his character, he never would have got the nomination this time around. It's politics. Not that he's out of touch. The fact that Sarah Palin was the highlight of the RNC illustrates that clearly. She's the one that energized the base. Not John McCain. McCain needed that to have a chance of election in November. The fact that John McCain apologized for the Republican party and the policies of the last eight years and actually stated that there were those Republicans in charge that were corrupted at the national convention was a courageous thing to do. He has repudiated the policies of the past and wants to bring honor back to Washington. That is admirable. That is a recognition of the sins of the party's past. That is not the action of a politician who is out of touch. I challenge you to quote some sources and give some examples of how John McCain is out of touch.
The fact is, that Obama is a highly, highly intelligent, motivated and fair individual and more than qualified. Did you watch Bill Clinton's speech (which I found to be the most informative of all) at the Dem Convention? I'd be happy to send you the link if you didn't see it.
But he mentioned that he was younger than Obama when he ran, and that everyone's criticism of him was that he was "inexperienced". He turned our entire economy around and left us with a huge surplus and we had the lowest unemployement rates in years. Now we have a high unemployement rate, a huge defecit, a housing crisis, a "war" and schools closing because of no funding for education. Do you have any friends that are teachers? OMG I do, talking to them is beyond disturbing. Look you can read all the papers, the articles and get the facts, but that is all I am saying, base your vote off of the FACTS (and sometimes you have to look deep to find them because they are not interesting enough to make the front page).
I have lots of friends that are teachers. I coached high school debate for fifteen years. Bill Clinton's and Hillary Clinton's speeches were speeches that they had to make for the Democratic party, Bill's place in History, and Hillary's nomination to the Supreme Court if Obama gets elected or her chance to run for President in four years if McCain gets elected. Those speeches that the Clintons gave were wonderful. But do you remember the speeches they gave on the campaign trail when Hillary was running for office? Do you really believe both the Clintons think that Barack is this great experienced soul when Hillary ran the 3AM ad during the Primary campaign and said that Obama was not qualified to be President, but that John McCain was? This is politics. This is not an endorsement of Obama on behalf of the Clintons. Besides, Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, a governor of Arkansas--a state barely larger than Alaska population wise if you're going to be fair about it with a smaller economy than Alaska's. Also, Bill Clinton was running on the 2 for 1 platform, do you remember? "If you vote for me, you get Hillary too."

As for taxes, education, the deficit....if Obama spends one dollar on any new program he will immediately fail at solving the deficit--which he said was the biggest crippling handicap of our generation. Look at his plan on his website, look at McCain's. Only McCain gives concrete specifics for how he's going to eliminate the deficit by 2013. Sadly, but necessary, it involves spending freezes on social programs. But it's necessary. Now is the wrong time for spending on new programs that Obama advocates--that Hillary advocated. The deficit needs to be solved first. Obama won't put the deficit ahead of his social spending programs because he wants to be popular and elected in four years to a second term. John McCain is a one-term president who doesn't care about reelection. Who do you think is going to do more for the deficit? The candidate that wants to get reelected and spend more on programs or the candidate that wants to eliminate our debt and has a concrete plan and date to stick to? McCain. McCain. McCain.

In the end, you will do what you want to do. I really, really liked Hillary and was having a hard time deciding for a long time. I ended up choosing Obama, because I thought that even though Hillary is great, there was too much baggage there, too much spite and her best efforts would be thwarted by the Republican half of congress, so she wouldn't really be able to get anything done. Barack appeals to both Rep and Dem, always has, and I believe many Rep support him, but can't/won't speak it aloud. If you supported Hillary, then you supported her beliefs and ideas, so basically you support Baracks, because they pretty much agree on everything.
No offense cousin, but you're logic isn't quite there on this one. The "baggage" you claim that Hillary is carrying with her is her experience. That's an asset. The other "baggage" she carries is her husband, the former President of the United States that achieved the elimination of the deficit and a budget surplus. That's what you discarded when you chose Obama over Hillary. Spite? I don't think Hillary is spiteful at all. She's not anywhere as near as good at public speaking as Obama is, but I rather have Hillary and her "harshness" than a President that is full of hot air. Obama has one piece of legislation he worked with Republicans on. McCain has dozens. Palin has put democrats and independents in her cabinet in Alaska. The jury is still out for Obama--who has really only demonstrated a series of carefully orchestrated career moves to get him into position to run for the presidency without accomplishing anything substantial along the way. Given that choice over Hillary's baggage, I choose Hillary's baggage.

If Barack's policies are the same as Hillary's, then yes, I support his policies. However, now is not the time for them. The deficit has to be dealt with first. It's already out of control. And by the same logic, you should have supported Hillary.
Sorry this was so long and didn't mean to lecture you. I really do hope you're well!
No apologies are necessary. This debate and these issues are critical for all of us as a nation. It's important to put them out on the table and to discuss them and to think for ourselves rather than relying on the party talking points and biased liberal or conservative media.

"The most important political office is that of private citizen."
-Louis D. Brandeis
p.s. Here was my reply to the Sarah Palin blog you wrote:

Sorry Matt, but I just don't think you are digging deep enough into this or asking the right questions here.

The fact that they (McCain) even chose her is insulting to women, they think we just want a vagina on the ticket and don't care who it belongs to? Think again. Gimme a break. I am not interested in her running this county. Out nation has a much more diverse constituency than her narrow belief system allows.

If this was on the other side (Democrats) Republicans would be tearing her apart! From the moment they announced her all I've heard is public hypocrisy and it's making me SICK.
I think that it has been clear that Sarah Palin was not selected as the VP candidate because she's a woman, but because she has since proved to energize and consolidate the right-wing base of the republican party. This is what the religious right and evangelicals have desired for years. Now they've got it. I think an ancillary benefit of Sarah Palin being a woman is that she will also pull some Hillary supporters. I am excited about what she represents in terms of a corruption fighting, bipartisan leader. I don't care for her social policies, but it excites me that she might be able to shake up Washington just a little bit.
I'm sure she's a lovely woman that has many church-going friends, I'm sure she throws a mean pot-luck. Her husband is probably a great guy, and does a great job supporting his family off the salary he makes working at a big oil company.

Talk about living in la-la land: A pregnant teenage daughter? Well, the abstinence theory didn't work. Hmmm, seems she can't even keep her own household under control. Oh wait, she wouldn't let her daughter take birth control, that's right.
Those are cheap shots. Even Barack Obama has said the children of candidates are off limits. Their values are anti-abortion and totally pro-life. Every family has children that do things that embarrass their parents--including ours. You know who I'm talking about. You can't blame Sarah Palin for that, just as society can't blame our parents for what our siblings have done.
Her character: Everyone is praising her that she had an infant with down's syndrome, lovely, she had it. Now who's gonna raise it? As VP (even Governor) she certainly will not have time to raise an infant, let alone one with special needs. Nannys, other family members, etc. will be raising that baby. I'm not one to tell someone how to handle their family, and I am certainly femininst enough to support working mothers, but this is again an issue of HYPOSCRISY: If she were really the woman she claims to be, a conservative Christian with "family values", maybe she'd put her own ambitions aside and show a little devotion to taking care of her kid herself?
That's a very sexist argument that the mainstream press has already condemned. Various reporters on CNN have condemned their network for reporting this. It's a purely sexist argument, and no media would ever throw the same accusation at a male candidate with a child with Down's Syndrome or any other special needs.
What bothers me is public willingness to just blindly follow the newsbites and the short blurbs, to just accept what they are told and not question this. I mean, the fact that CNN and the news programs even mention her high school nickname shows how little there is to even say about her politically.
I couldn't agree with you more. Now apply your statement to Barack Obama. What is he being challenged on, really? Scroll up and play the video I've embedded in this post. Obama's friends have questionable morals and agendas and Obama stands by them. First Reverend Wright. Now Ayers. I really wish you were looking at your own candidate the way you think you're looking at Sarah Palin.
In the end, honestly, I think she is irrelevant. But it's the way the public is eating it all up that scares me. All I am saying is, please, ask the right questions. Hold people accountable to what they say vs. how they actually live.
Well, the media disagrees. Sarah Palin is being branded by the media as the future of the Republican Party and as a Presidential Contender. John McCain essentially remade the Republican Party at the RNC. Sarah Palin has a very bright political future and she appeals to a very large constituency in the United States today. I'm hoping it's enough to put McCain/Palin over the top for the next four years and they get their chance to eliminate the deficit and balance the budget so that Hillary can run and win the presidency in 2012.

Thanks for reading.

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tashabud said...

Wow! It's quite a long read, but a very interesting, informative, and entertaining read. I like the way you presented your talking points and your arguments line by line. This post is written and handled in a very fair way. Whoever is Rachel, you certainly answered her comments in a fair and balanced, non-condescending way.

My husband's family back east also differs from our political affiliation. The family votes strictly on party lines and not on the person or the substance of the candidates' platform. So sad. We've learned long ago not to discuss politics with friends and family members who do not agree with ours. I vote mostly on what I believe in, which so happens to fall mostly within the Republican platforms. However, I don't vote strictly on party lines. I have voted for Democrats when I believed that the Democrats are better qualified than the Republicans for the offices they're running for.

This reminds me, the people who don't know my political party affiliation often times express shock that for someone who's a woman and someone from a minority group is not a Democrat! They're almost appalled that I'm not a Democrat! I must be a maverick also because all of my husband's family members back east are staunch Democrats when I joined his family. They still are. We love one another very much, so we steer away from politics if possible.

This is an excellent post, and I'm going to Digg it and hopefully be able to Buzz it properly this time. Have a great week.

September 08, 2008 12:58 PM
Doug said...

This is, without a doubt, the longest single post I have ever read. The fact that I read the entire thing speaks volumes. You are the most perceptive and unhappy analyst I have found on the web. "None of the Above" would be my choice in this election. I really wish the country had direct popular election of the president, along with a viable multi-party system. Thanks for giving me some non-MSNBC commentary to chew on.

September 08, 2008 1:26 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Tasha--Thanks for your comments, your kind words, and the always, your support of my blogging in all its forms is greatly appreciated!

Doug--Thank you very much for your comments!

I wouldn't describe my post as exactly "unhappy". Although, I'm definitely unhappy with the choice in this election and I'm incredibly unhappy with the media reporting and the way they are trying to force feed the public with no real insight. And I'm outraged that so many brilliant minds aren't doing any thinking for themselves but instead are just touting the party line and the words of the political surrogates.

Our country deserves a lot better than that.

September 08, 2008 2:15 PM
Mike Golch said...

First of all when the current president toook over he was given a country that was out of debt and had a surplus. now this country in in the red to the tune of trillions of dollars.
This being said The Republican Party had the BALLS TO BLAME THE DEMOCRATES FOR THIS????????
They complaint that the tax and spend policy of the Democratic party will cause huge deficits

September 08, 2008 4:17 PM Admin said...

Wow Matt, longest post I've ever read too! If I was American, I'd probably vote Republican. I really think the American political system should include more parties, not just the Democrats and Republicans. Here in Canada, we have 5 major parties and many smaller ones (who never get a member elected). If it had more choice, it would give more people the opportunity to run and it would be more democratic. When is the last time a Independent candidate was elected as President? Never! The two-party system is almost as bad as the dictatorships in the communist countries around the world, where there's one or no choice. I also find that the process drags on forever! Sunday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election and we'll be at the polls and finished our election before Americans ever hit the polls!

September 08, 2008 6:46 PM
Matt said...

Matt, well there's thirty-five minutes I'll never get back! Just kidding. First, I would like to compliment you on an extremely well thought out, intelligent and sensible post. It clearly took a lot of thought and effort to produce. I especially like how you backed up your arguments with facts and wise old quotes (that more people should read). I have said until I am blue in the face that all I wish for is that people take the time to do their own research before believing what they hear on their favorite news program. The laziness of people in this country sickens me, especially every time I hear someone quote, almost verbatim, something they heard from a pundit on television when the quote is easily proven to be wrong or an outright lie. How can people who, obviously, care so much about who gets elected to run this country not care enough to do their own research in order to make an educated decision? I'll never understand it.

As for your cousin, I sat in shock the whole time I read your article because she was berating you and other less informed voters than herself for not doing their own research and for listening only to the media, when it was so painfully clear that this is exactly what she has done. She repeated the left wing "party line" to perfection. She said, "What bothers me is public willingness to just blindly follow the newsbites and the short blurbs, to just accept what they are told and not question this." Holy cow, are there no mirrors in her house? She needs to look into one immediately because she might not like what she sees (according to her own words here). And some of the comments she made about McCain, Palin and Republicans in general is very disturbing. I'm afraid I don't see a future where people can disagree on politics but still get along for this very reason. The attacks coming from the left are getting ever more vicious and uncalled for. Do you notice that these kinds of attacks almost only ever come from the left? Not just typical political attacks, but vicious personal attacks? Sad. Is it any wonder why people like me will NEVER have anything to do with their party (no matter who their candidate is)as long as they have this kind o attitude?

Awesome job, Matt. I hope many people will take the time to read this post.

September 08, 2008 10:00 PM
couchmouse said...

If you are voting the deficit and think McCain is the answer, you are sorely mistaken. Bush in 2000 campaigned on almost precisely what McCain is promising today, and look where we are. 6 of the last 8 years had the Republicans in control of both the WH and congress and look at the mess. The ONLY surplus this country has had in recent history has been under a Democrat... Clinton. I have been a voting republican for 39 years and am sorry I helped put Bush in the WH. I can absolutely guarantee you a McCain administration will make Bush look like he was actually competent. McCain has been around a long time but he does not have the judgment or temperament to lead that this country needs at this time in it's history.

September 08, 2008 11:30 PM
Shelia said...

Well Matt, this is a well crafted post, and your belief that John McCain is the answer bleeds through very well. I don't have a single argument because that is what you believe. Although I am slightly insulted that you have bought into the rhetoric that those of us who seek to elect Obama see him as the "Messiah."

I believe in God and a risen Christ. I'm not at all mistaken at where my salvation comes from.

I think that you are very wrong though about the masses being spoon fed their belief systems by the news. I don't think that half of them even watch the news! They're too busy watching all of those other shows that you mentioned.

My family and a lot of our friends sit down and share specific print stories because we purposely don't watch the news with regard to politics. We have long deemed our perspective based upon our life experience in this country as far more valid than someone reading a teleprompter.

As our individual lives and experiences inform our decision, we look for someone to lead the country that we believe will operate from somewhere within that perspective. I have no question in my mind that, that is not John McCain.

I don't believe your vision of what McCain will do for and bring to the people of this country...but I respect that, that is your choice.

September 09, 2008 12:44 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Jean-thanks for your comments. Definitely the process seems a lot simpler in Canada and you definitely have a lot more choice. I really believe our two party system is broken and rarely can we choose. Our election process used to be different. Originally, all those running for president would have their names on the ballot. The top vote getter would become President. The second vote getter would become Vice President. I like that idea. Our two-party system forces us to choose the lesser of two evils and our primary system, as has been demonstrated this political season, clearly can be manipulated.

I agree there is way too much time to think. Everyone should be able to have time to evaluate a candidate, but there should be a season of focus, and a season of inquiry and a season of debate and then go to the polls. Our current system just seems like one long popularity contest.

Matt--Thanks for the validation and your insightful comments as usual. There are thinkers out there, but our news broadcasts are more like entertainment shows these days to grab ratings rather than to report news with gravitas like our reporters of old. I don't like the new confrontational style. There's respect missing while the pundits are in many cases just mouthpieces for the candidates or the political parties. It would be nice if those we elect to office had a backbone and could speak their own mind, even when it goes against the views of the party.

Couchmouse--I don't believe McCain is the answer. But after looking at both his issue positions and Obama's on their respective websites, I think McCain's plan is more credible. I know Bush really screwed it all up, but Obama just sat back and let it happen and to that extent he is equally to blame. In 2006 Obama gave a speech saying the deficit was the biggest issue facing us and would cripple our society and enslave our children and grandchildren. So what has he done the last two years about the deficit? Nothing! He's been waiting until he gets elected President as we've added almost 2 trillion dollars to the debt. That's not leadership. That's a man out for himself and his own agenda. I can't trust him to solve our nation's issues when everything he has done since he was introduced on the National Stage 4 years ago at the DNC has been calculated to position him for his run for the Whitehouse. That's seeking office for the wrong reasons. He needs to earn our trust by working for the people he represents first. Not using his time in the senate to write two memoirs, vote present, and spend half his time running for President. That's not fair to the people of Illinois, and I think it's indicative of what we would get should he be elected to the White House.

September 09, 2008 9:46 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Shelia--I don't believe John McCain is "the" answer. Far from it. I don't think either candidate is the answer. But after looking at their positions as explained on their websites, and after spending a lot of time reading their writings and looking at their records, I think McCain is best positioned to lead our country through the next four years of the two candidates that made it through the primary process. I would have been much more excited about Hillary Clinton. I would have been much more excited about Mitt Romney. But ultimately, I would have been much more excited about someone who has chosen not to run...someone like a Lee Iacoca, or a Michael Bloomberg or someone with a no-nonsense, get it done attitude. I've often joked that Madonna, as a business woman, would make a better President than a lot of our candidates who run for office.

I apologize for my rhetoric if it has insulted you in any way. I don't try to insult people as a rule. I accept responsibility for using the term Messiah inappropriately. This post was as much a post for my family members as it was for the blogosphere, and I admit I'm guilty of a bit of exaggeration; even as the language has been much toned down from family discussions. I am guilty of using the term "Messiah" the same way comedians use the word "Nazi" as in "Soup Nazi", and for that I apologize.

Further, I am well aware that are a great many intelligent Americans out there such as yourself and your family and other bloggers here on EntreCard and elsewhere who don't buy what the news is feeding us. But there are so many more that do. Every where I have lived--from Detroit to Columbus to Indianapolis to Akron and Marietta Ohio and now to Western North Carolina--people have the same arguments with the same reasoning as what is reported by the talking heads on television. It all depends who they like.

The biggest proof of this is all the congressmen and congresswomen who line up to tote the party line on these news broadcasts. They all say the same thing and repeat the talking points from their party. They are repeated in speeches across the nation. They are repeated in emails sent to their constituents. It's sickening. My family, all across the country, repeat these talking points and my family is pretty darn intelligent and activist. My grandfather was president of the Michigan Board of Pharmacy and stood up to Governor Romney in Michigan in the 50s. We learned to think and to engage and to participate, yet somehow, somewhere along the line, we've been absorbed by the two party system as well. This year, it's the same old story and I've broken out of the mold. I can't abide by party lines anymore. Politics is being reduced to childishness in so many ways.

All this being said, I never meant to insult others for their beliefs or to fit everyone in the same jar. I know America is too diverse and that Americans resist being labeled and we are far too nuanced for that. But I did mean to shake up the political thought and to make my readers look at and evaluate where they stand and why.

I don't believe either Barack Obama or John McCain will be the leader any of us want. I think what remains clear is that our country will remain as divided as ever after this election cycle. It's our two-party system pitting American against American one more time.

I have only come to the conclusion that John McCain represents the lesser of two evils.

I really respect your opinion and your views Shelia, and I am sorry if I offended or insulted you in any way.

September 09, 2008 10:03 AM
Jeff said...

Hey Matt,

There is quite a bit to comment on. Here is an early statement that really hits the point.

* In a democracy, it is incumbent on all its citizens to stay abreast of the issues that affect the country so that they can speak out and keep our politicians in check and vote intelligently on election day.

This was a most important statement. For true effect, however, politicians would need to have been kept in check prior to our reaching this point. This truth does not solve the problem, however. I think that a valid question is: How do you, me, and/or others encourage others to get involved in a substantial way?

Most news shows give more precedence to the 'who's winning today' aspect of politics than the issues at hand. Much more precedence. And... And these people know exactly what they are doing. They are trading intelligent discussion for ratings at the cost of public ignorance. As you do to some extent, I blame the media for at least some of our current problem, though I don't believe this was the desired outcome while 24 hour news shows were in development.

For the record, I plan to add the US National Debt Clock to my blog permanently and (somehow) persuade others to do the same.

Though you know my feelings on Sarah Palin, I feel compelled to add that most large cities in the United States present different problems and populations far larger than than she confronted with her executive experience. I don't disagree with her selection solely on this basis, but here, 'executive experience' seems more of a buzzword (phrase).

Have a good one...

September 09, 2008 10:45 AM
Shelia said...

No harm Matt, and I certainly accept your apology. The overall discourse is far greater than either of these politicians. Let me say to you what John McCain has said about Obama, "there is far more that unites us than divides us.

Whomever gets elected, we all will have to live with their governing of this country. That will be when we turn to the "real" Messiah.

September 10, 2008 2:35 AM

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