Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Your Vote Counts, Two!

Romney Policy review continued

  • The Deficit - This is a boogeyman the Republicans trot out every four years to scare Americans with threats of "your children's, children's, children will be paying your debts!" Unfortunately Romney's plan cannot...let's look at that again...CAN NOT be done in a way that reduces the deficit.

    The plan is to cut revenue, while also cutting programs and somehow arrive at a balanced budget. This doesn't work without introducing crippling austerity measures that would crush the economy in its current fragile recovery state. In addition, the Romney plan is to dramatically increase the military budget. Lower revenue, increased military spending, while making the Bush Era tax cuts permanent...in what way does this not balloon the deficit?
  • Women's issues - Romney has been all over this issue. He's pro-choice as a governor, then immediately shifts to the right when he starts running for president, then tries to appear moderate when he gets the nomination. He can't be trusted on this. period.

    The Romney platform is simple 1.) Appoint justices who will roll back Roe v. Wade. 2.) End Title X Funding for family planning and preventative health services. This would seriously impact Planned Parenthood's ability to service low-income women and those without insurance.

    Two personal notes here; first, before my wife and I were married, and for years after, we depended on Planned Parenthood for subsidized birth control. Neither of us could have afforded it on our own. Planned Parenthood really helped us to avoid getting pregnant before we were ready. Second, my mother in law speaks in no uncertain terms about how bad things were before Roe v. Wade, when every major hospital in every major city had a septic abortion ward to treat women who had used coat hangers and worse to end an unwanted pregnancy. Conservatives say that won't happen again, but it already is in states like Texas and Arizona where they've instituted draconian laws that restrict access to a safe medical abortion. Make no mistake, a Romney presidency would be a bad thing for women.
  • Global Warming: Romney's position on this is just as mercurial as his position on Women's issues. In the last year he's been on the public record saying he believes global warming is caused by man, and he's been on the public record saying that no one (really? no one?) knows if man is really contributing to global warming. It's politically savvy of Romney to take this position as his campaign and Super PACs are getting huge sums of money from organizations such as Americans for Prosperity that are vehemently outspoken against climate change science.
  • Healthcare: There has been a lot of discussion on this topic, and there is a lot of heated debate about the Affordable Healthcare Act. Much of the derision for "ObamaCare" comes from those who view it as socializing our healthcare system, or creating a system of "social medicine." In the end "social medicine" is a pejorative term with no real meaning that is typically used by conservatives to throw fire on progressives trying to make real change to our health care system.

    In fact the United States has had a social health care system for decades. It's called the Veteran's Health Administration. This is a government body that operates government owned health care facilities and employs health care professionals. That's the closest thing to true "socialized medicine" practiced by any modern, industrialized nation.

    The Affordable Care Act is actually a step toward a publicly funded health care system that is privately administered, what's known as a "single-payer" system. It's actually much closer to the the way the Canadian system operates than it is to, say, the British National Health Service.

    In fact the United States is woefully behind in this regard. Ours is the only western industrialized country, the only real power in the world, that does not currently provide some kind of a public option as a step toward creating a universal healthcare system. I'm sure conservatives of all stripes will proudly puff out their chests and strut about while chanting the mantras of free market economies and competition leading innovation and the dignity of being self-reliant. To what end? In a ranking of life expectancy by country the United States was 38th in the world after such socialist hellscapes as England, France, and Canada.

    For me it has never been stated more clearly or succinctly than it was by a doctor who was interviewed about volunteering for a free clinic in Los Angeles. She had done the same for free clinics all over the state, and also volunteered for Doctors Without Borders. What struck me was when she said that she and the other doctors see hundreds of patients at the free clinic events, and people still end up being turned away. She said the need in this country is as great as some third world countries where she's worked.
This is the United States. We can do better.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Your Vote Counts!

This started as an email to my sister but started running way too long to send her the thing in its entirety, so I decided to put it here. I don't usually like to do this, mostly because it opens me up to smug condescension from people on the conservative side of the spectrum. I decided to go ahead with this because I think this is important and there needs to be an honest, hard look at the candidates. It's wonky and long, and I apologize. I hope that after the election I'll get back to writing about comic books and drawing cartoons. 

The subject is meant to be glib, but in your case it's really true. Colorado is a battleground state this year which means your vote actually counts for something. If I were to vote for...I don't know...my neighbor's dog, and convince everyone I know to do the same, and they convinced everyone they know to do the same, and they convinced everyone they know. It would amount to squadoo in California. My state is so strongly Obama that were I to make a dedicated effort to get out the vote on the Labrador Party candidate it would result in a statistical blip at best. 

You on the other hand, and the other voters in Colorado, could actually affect the outcome of the race. Not as much as...you know...Ohio...but more so than California. 

That said, I have to follow it up with this, I don't understand why anyone who didn't drink an entire bottle of NyQuil before going to the polls would vote for Romney. Here are a few of my general thoughts about the GOP candidate:
  • Don't judge a person by what they say when the cameras are rolling, when they have scripted questions to answer, and when their campaign has had an opportunity to coach the interviewer on what questions not to ask. Judge a person by what they say when his answers haven't been prepared in advance or they're not aware the camera is rolling. Romney fails this test of character time, after time, after time. From the infamous "47% of Americans don't want to be responsible for their lives" remark, to telling a student asking about federal funding for an education that he should "shop around and get the best education he can afford," to "I'm not concerned with the very poor." There have been dozens of others, but these comments really reveal Romney to me; an out-of-touch, rich, white plutocrat who's only out for himself.
  • Judge a person by their ability to say something and stick to it. Romney is laughably bad at this. Laughably. It's not for nothing that he's called the "etch-a-sketch candidate." He's taken every imaginable side on just about every major issue you could name. Try it some time. Pick an issue than do a search on YouTube for both sides. I'll tee one up for you Romney believes in global warming (climate change is a euphemism created by the right to downplay the severity of the problem) AND Romney does not believe in global warming. Try this with any issue you can think of. I can all but guarantee you will find Romney making arguments on both sides. Incidentally, cap and trade was originally presented to congress in the 1980's as a way to address industrial emissions that were causing acid rain. The group that presented it was the Environmental Defense Fund, and consisted of a coalition of free-market-Republicans and environmentalists. It goes back further than that, but the argument can be made that the origins of cap-and-trade as a political concept were in the Republican party.
  • There are volumes to be read in what's left unsaid. This goes back to Romney not releasing his taxes. I'm sure you're tired of this, but you should know that his father, George Romney, released five years of taxes when he ran for president. The elder Romney was also a very successful, very wealthy businessman, and yet felt it was appropriate as someone who was running for the opportunity to influence tax policy to disclose his own tax history. It shows integrity and honesty, virtues Romney lacks. When he ran for Governor he was caught lying about filing his taxes as a resident of Massachusetts.  
Those are kind of personal objections to Romney. The next points are all policy. 
  • Foreign Policy - Libya: let's get this out of the way first, according to the Vienna Convention host countries are responsible for providing security. America provides its own security because we've learned the hard way that we can't always rely on the host country. A big part of the problem here is that prior to the attacks in Libya congress voted to reduce the budget of the Diplomatic Security Service by almost half-a-billion dollars. Paul Ryan voted for that reduction and neither he nor Romney have really acknowledged his part in that. Syria: Romney called it Iran's path to the sea, it's not, Iran has hundreds of miles of coast and their own Navy. If a man is going to be responsible for influencing the policy for dealing with the region he should probably know at least something about the fucking geography. China: He wants to label them a currency manipulator. In truth every candidate going back several elections, including Obama, have made this promise "I will immediately declare China a currency manipulator!" For the most part they all find upon taking office that A.) America does not (surprise surprise) dictate Chinese economic policy B.) The Chinese know they're doing it and frankly don't give a shit what we think, and C.) To label them a currency manipulator could seriously upset trade relations with them. The best way to affect Chinese economic policy, by far, is to provide incentives for American companies to make their products here instead of overseas. 
  • Iran: Both sides claim to have a hard red line on Iran creating a nuclear device. What's worrisome here is Romney has all of the same foreign policy advisers as George W. Bush. It's not too far fetched they would lead Romney to decide on a preemptive strike on Iran. This would not be like attacking Afghanistan or Iraq, not remotely. Iran is a prosperous country with a well-equipped, well-trained, modern military. They also have powerful allies with vested interests in Iran's security. That said. Iran is most likely not going to be come a nuclear armed state. The minute Israel has actionable intelligence that Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon they'll reduce Tehran to a smoking crater. Not a great move for global peace or security, but understandable. Iran has been outspoken in their desire to make Israel go away.
  • Terrorism - Romney claims that Obama has allowed al-Qaeda to proliferate. While it is true that al-Qaeda affiliates exist in several countries and pose a threat, it's also true that in four years the military, CIA, and law enforcement have killed or captured more key leadership figures than at any time in Bush's presidency. Most of whom were hiding in Pakistan, as the president mentioned in the debate. While they are recruiting all the time, this kind of "brain drain" has a cost. Bin Laden is just one on a list of terror leaders who is no longer a threat thanks to the efforts of the military and intelligence communities under the leadership of the Obama administration.
  • Economy - Romney wants to make a flat reduction to tax rates to the tune of 20% across the board. This is not a new concept. In almost every election someone, usually a Republican, tries to sell the country on a flat tax, or a flat reduction, or "leveling the playing field." There are two reasons this has yet to find traction with voters and/or politically 1.) It won't make filing taxes easier for anyone. It doesn't matter what the tax code is, you still arrive at the numbers using the same calculation. 2.) It explodes income inequality. In a flat tax system the very rich end up paying substantially less as a percentage of their income, while the middle class, and especially the low-income classes, pay more. Romney's plan is no exception to this. 
Romney dancing on the graves of our honored dead