Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saddle Back Civil Forum


I'm stealing that move of McCain's. Look at that expression. Amazing.

I am almost through watching the Civil Forum put on by Rick Warren at his megachurch in California. I think if you are going to watch one speech or debate (which this will probably be the closest we ever get to one) it should be this one. Warren asks some real tough questions and asks Obama at one point, "now I don't want your stump speech, let's get beyond it for a little while," quite the bold assertion. After watching it though I can see why Investor's Business Daily called it one of the most lopsided "debates" of memory. McCain was so personal and honest, going straight to the heart of the questions, while Obama had more of a hard time articulating what it is really that he thinks, which was of no surprise to me. It is also why Real Clear Politics said "It is now clear why Barack Obama has refused John McCain's offer of joint town hall appearances during the fall campaign. McCain is obviously better at them."
I have wanted so bad to believe in "change", but this forum just confirmed all of my fears and actually gave me a little encouragement for simply voting against the lesser of two disappointments.
Real Clear Politics made this statement: "What took place instead under Warren's precise and revealing questioning was the most important event so far of the 2008 campaign -- a performance every voter should seek out on the Internet and watch."

If you have an hour or so, it really is worth your time.


goodnightrose said...

that is one heck of a move. i was really curious as to how those interviews went. was it appropriate to have it in the church? ill have to watch it if i have a minute.

aaron said...

I have just finished watching the You Tube of the forum. First of all, I'd be interested in hearing why you feel that this year the vote is between the lesser of two evils? I have never been more hopeful in the candidate choices than this year.

I thought that McCain did seem more at ease in that forum. But I think a lot of that had to do with personality type rather than authenticity. During many of his stories and anecdotes I thought this feels much more contrived and "Hallmarkish" than Obama. He seemed to really go after making people feel good rather than really deal with some things. I got the vibe that it was this "look at me I'm the straight talker". It was too much bravado I think. Obama did stumble around and I thought he could have answered more direct on SOME of the questions. But here's the deal in my mind.

In the world that we live in today, most of these issues just are not black and white. They are very nuanced. To treat them as black and white issues is to run a presidency as George Bush has. In the end I felt that Obama's approach to the questions felt like he understood that more than McCain.

That said, McCain really does shine in that type of forum. However his three people for advice (as well as Obama's) made me want to gag. For Obama, you're telling me your decisions are coming from your wife and grandmother!? And McCain, we're in for some bad times if he's really that military centered. All his answers seemed to contain military anecdotes and stories and references.

And all of that being said, I will not be heart broken if McCain wins, because I really do agree with a lot of what he is talking about. But this continues to strengthen my hope in Obama.

aaron said...

Three more things:

1. Why didn't McCain get asked about abortion? Maybe he did and I zoned out for that question. I would have really liked either of these guys to talk about supporting life on all levels not just in the abortion arena.
2. I felt very uneasy about McCain's resoponse to defining people who are rich.
3. I also felt uneasy about how McCain jumped on the drilling issue and exploited that opportunity. There were several times that Obama would mention his tax plans, or other political agenda's he'd set out but it never felt like to me that he walked away from the debate to pump his latest stump speech. Maybe he did and I over looked it.

In the end though, I would McCain won this debate. That's definitely how America sees' it from what I've read.

Mark said...

Aaron, I am glad that you took the time to watch the forum. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. Here is my hasty response- forgive me if I am blunt, I certainly am not passionate about either candidate and so am certainly not attacking anyone. I readily welcome your views.

The major issues of U.S. policy that stand to the forefront in my mind would be the following:

Health Care- Nationalizing a vital aspect of people’s lives would be a disaster. A good quote that I tend to agree with says, “If the government were to take control of the Sahara desert, they would soon run short on sand.” Obama would nationalize health care, just one of his socialistic political orientation. You are known by the company you keep and Obama has been praised by the Communist Party of the U.S.. and even Fidel Castro! An endorsement, which is absurd at best, and one that Obama has never repudiated.

Economic / Taxes- For all of the evils, I remain a free-market capitalist. Obama is certainly not. Look at his stance on the DOHA trade rounds and NAFTA.

International Relations- Obama studied international relations at Columbia, but I don’t feel that he would have the leadership capacity to carry out America’s best interests. I can see a lot of compromise and inexperience creeping in. While his stance of “dialogue” sounds good, I feel it is hopelessly na├»ve at best.

I thought you made a great point about the world being nuanced and the Presidency of George Bush. I would certainly agree with you there. His biggest failure as President was not listening to other opinion or repudiating his own. He certainly did treat politics as black and white, which led to a catastrophic second term internationally speaking. McCain’s hawkishness, like you say, does scare me. Another reason why I am not thrilled about my choices.

These are my thoughts on Obama though and why I feel, namely by default, McCain is a better candidate.

Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate. Hilary was around 17th or so. This is a startling fact. What is more startling to me though is that Obama, in his four years in the senate, has not tried to pass a single piece of legislation. To me, this is nothing but unacceptable. It seems to me that he has just been readying himself for the position of the Presidency while ignoring his current Senate position. That would not be such a terrible thing, but to me it seems like pandering. Obama, no doubt, is a master communicator and rhetorician. My fear is that people will get caught up in his talk and the media frenzy of his personality and not look beyond. He is young, charismatic, and energetic, but his policies scare me. I think he would be a great guy to talk to, and is a great addition to U.S. politics, but he should not win the election. As the line goes, he is too inexperienced and his policies are not in America’s best interest.
As far as the debate is concerned, I was extremely puzzled by Obama’s answer of the “hardest decision he has ever had to make.” He answered that opposing the war was the hardest decision he’s ever had to make. The problem though, is that Obama was a state senator in Illinois, not a national senator and so he did not even have a vote in the matter. It’s unclear to me how the hardest decision in his life was one that he wasn’t even asked to make.

Let me throw a couple questions at you for response:

What is it that excites you about this election. Why are you so hopeful?
Why do you feel that Obama would make a good president?
What policies of his are you most keen on?

Aaron said...

Mark - I'd like to first respond to your thoughts on health care.

McCain proposes a privatized health care. He realies on market forces. One that would offer tax credits to people to allow them to buy health care from companies. This is opposed to receiving it from your employer. The hope with this is to let the companies use social demand for lower prices drive the rates.

A few strong flaws to this:

1.People who already have good healthcare provided from their job may lose that because there's no guarantee that a job will continue to buy and provide health care in this plan.

2.The tax credit rises with inflation however the rise of health care cost is far faster than the rise of inflation. Therefore, this just does not allow for enough people to have good quality healthcare. Plus, what McCain's offering is not really up to par with what healthcare cost right now, i.e. 5,000 for single or 12,000 for families. Also people with pre-exsisting conditions will have a hard time getting a good deal on the individual market. Now, if you're young and healthy you might do well, even better than what you get now.

3.You risk healthy people dropping out of the insurance pools of states that harder restrictions for states that don't leaving the people who can't get picked up as easy in those other states. In an effect de-regulating the insurance safety nets we have now.

Barack's Plan is for a more universal style healthcare. It's a pay or play system for employers. Under this all employer's must provide comprehensive healthcare to all of their employee's or pay a tax to the government. The government would use the money from that tax to cover the un-insured. Small businesses will not be subject to that. If they are they are given a tax break to help pay that coverage. They want to build on the employer sponsored system. If Obama set's the tax at a high level many employer's will offer healthcare rather than pay the tax if they set it low they will opt to pay the tax. This is an issue to watch.

Two options are available to

1.National Health Plan (Modeled after Medi-Care) under 65 – the government set's the rules for the plan.
2.The National Health Insurance Exchange – Multiple Private Insurance plans competing with each other. There will be heavy regulations with these. So they cannot dump people in the middle of the year or jack people's rates.

Businesses can choose one of two of these.

This will provide stability hopefully.

This will be provided by the taxes from the employers as well as a few hope filled movements such as from moving to electronic medical records, doing a better job at disease management with chronic conditions, etc. He also wants to let the tax cuts of people who make over 250,000 a year expire and let that tax continue on to help pay for it.

Right now it is under powered as far as payment goes. This is a flaw. In the end I feel much better about going this way in our country. It may make a sacrifice on our part. A sacrifice that is needed and is worth it though.

Broken Artist said...


Health care certainly does need reform. It is too expensive, and hard to obtain and, I believe, not enough alternatives of choice.
I am not sure where you got the idea that McCain’s health care would not allow health insurance to be distributed by employers. That option is still available, his plan is simply to make it easier and cheaper for health care to be obtained beyond the job by giving people credits. He is not outlawing employment coverage, rather expanding it beyond the current situation. I think this is a critical point. What happens when a person loses their job or takes a few years off to raise kids? It is absurd to think that these people would suddenly be denied the care that they need. Health care should not be decided on where you work or how much money you earn. The problem with Obama’s plan is that it locks the country further into an employment-based system, at a time when there is a growing bi-partisan consensus that we should be moving in the other direction. What is the logical reason for tying health insurance to employment? If you lose your job, you might expect to lose the company car, but you shouldn’t lose your healthcare. McCain’s proposal is only “privatized” because Obama’s is nationalized. Once again, it goes back to free markets, the system that has given us our high-standard of lifestyle. Competition is the name of the game in free markets. If health care is nationalized like Obama wants, there will simply be no incentive for companies to provide the best care they can. Why do people who can afford it always choose privatized doctors over health departments? Private doctors provide much higher quality service.
Another matter is the huge cost to employers. it flies in the face of basic economics. The amount of compensation a worker receives is a function of his productivity. Such a mandate simply increases the cost of hiring workers without increasing their productivity. Employers will therefore have to find ways to offset the added costs. This they can do by raising prices, lowering wages or reducing future wage increases, reducing other benefits such as pensions, or hiring fewer workers. Almost certainly, employees will be the net losers under such a mandate, with the low-skilled suffering most. There are problems with McCain’s view as well, such as small businesses being forced to drop coverage based on the taxing of currently tax-less employment coverage. But his plan has far less holes.
All this is not to even mention the cost of the plan. Estimates I have seen run into the 100 Billion dollar range. For me, it all boils down to this question: What service has actually been improved by having the government regulate it? I think you will be hard pressed to find an answer, but I would be glad to hear it.

Aaron and Page said...

I'll have to check on McCain's plan including employment coverage, what I've read has not included that.

However, Obama's doesn't leave people who don't have a job without health care. His has 2 options. This gets at the privatized competition and the universal option. It allows people to get that "free market" option and it allows people who have no money to achieve health care with the universal program. With McCain's explain to me how some one with out much money is going to achieve that health care? Especially a health care that has the provided regulations that the Obama plan has .

Plus you have to remember the different options for small business owner options. The small businesses get huge breaks and help. The big businesses don't, they don't need it.

How is McCain making it cheaper and more available for people with out much money?

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me...Why do Americans think that Health Care is a constitutional guarantee? Is it in the bill of rights somewhere?

Why don't we demand a guarantee from our policitians for food? Isn't a well-balanced daily meal just as important as health insurance? If so, then why don't we just make employers give everyone a daily meal or demand they be taxed so the government does?

Or how about homes? Isn't having a place to get out of the cold and rain just as important as health insurance? Why don't we tax "the rich" or "big oil" so that all of us would be guaranteed a house to live in?

The answer to all these "why's" is obvious... because it's blatant Marxist communism. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Sounds like a campaign slogan for Universal Healthcare. Many in this country would applaud such a slogan...until the theory becomes reality and then... well, take a look at history.

Tell me why citizens demanding ANYTHING from their goverment other than freedom is a good thing!!

Our founding fathers fought the revolution to escape the very concept of Universal Healthcare. No matter how well-intentioned, Government is not our provider, or at least, it shouldn't be.

aaron said...

I can see where you're coming from. However, it seems to me there are a lot of things that we have from our government that are great. A protective military for one. Road and City work, natural disaster relief funds, and subsidies for the stock market for two.

I work for a 501-C-3 organization and we receive a lot of grants from the government. This money helps us to do the work of the church, which in my opinion should be the ones at the front of the line for helping people be it health care, food/shelter needs, skills training, etc.

Should we depend on the government for these things? I don't know if we should see them as our source one and only. This would mean that the church was not doing it's job. I would say the church should see itself as called to handle these things. And the government should see itself as responsible for its own people and their safety.

Why does everything have to be so black and white? It's Capitalist! It's Marxist! This isn't the Cold War any more. Can't we learn and create systems in the grey? Can't we create partnerships with government/churches and people? Can we see God's provision from these areas as well as the times that it seems supernatural?

Broken Artist said...

Anonymous is sad that Nader is not President. Quite libertarian. The absolute minimal state.

Homeless man with a computer said...

I don't think he is sad that Nader isn't president. He is definitely sad that Ron Paul isn't. Nader isn't pushy enough for small government.
I think a national health care plan for all sounds fantastic. Unfortunately i also believe that is were its good qualities end. Oh yes, it does sound very compassionate and that is why i believe it is a problem. For one I believe if you just look at how we have handled Social Security you can see that adding a health care plan when social security is already failing is not the best plan.
There are some other rather large problems that I see with a national health care system that i think are quite evident, just look at our neighbors Canada. Some of their citizens are purchasing health care from private orginizations and recieving medical treatment across our borders becuase their national system is bogged down. Every person with a sniffle goes in for treatment and no one is turned down meaning months, and months to be able to even get in to see a doctor. I think that Canadians believe that Socialized health care is good until they have to go wait 12 hours to get into the hospital. I heard a comment from one of the interviewees from the documentary sicko on Glenn Beck who was livid about how they had taken out what he had said for the movie. He had mentioned that he used to be a believer in the Canadian system until he himself had to make a trip to the hospital where his concepts soon changed. After leaving from not being helped, because of the wait, he actually came back with a nurse when she had got off her shift to take care of some of the people in the waiting room. Now France, there is a good system. Not only do they pay outrages amounts to fund their system, but 70% of the population also purchases health care from a private orginization for the medical issues that are not covered by their government. I believe that in England there is talk going on of privatizing some of the hospitals there because once again their national system has become bogged down.
I for one, and as selfish as this sounds, do not want to die because of a condition that went untreated because I couldn't be helped cause Mindy sneezed and "needed" to be checked out.
Also a moot point that probably isn't as big of an issue is that it goes against the way our government was set up (in my interpretation of our founding fathers ideas). I believe they would be appalled at how big our government as gotten. It was never designed to give us things. As Ron Paul in the above comment said earlier, there is no right that lets us have health care. As heartless as this sounds, i believe America was set up as the land of opportunity. Now this may once again sound heartless and I don't think anyone will agree with me on this one, but we are given the opportunity to persue effective(or affective not sure which one to use here)health coverage for ourselves.
Now having said all of that I think there needs to be something drastically done with the syste we have today. I just believe that in past experiences it has looked to good to be true. Same with social security and medicare.

Homless man with a computer said...

Oh yes, as for the faith part of the canidates. Obama and McCain both made the conversation to much of a political issue. I would have loved for them to step outside of the political field for awhile and awnser without an agenda. I can't judge someone's heart, I will leave that up to God, but I would have liked them to give straight awnsers of how what they believe morally matches up with what they believe politically.