The Debate: A Critique By Internet

Tonight I am critiquing the debate entirey by using Internet sources.


Spending 1

McCain says check out the CAGW website.[1] says:

CAGW has been criticized for its links to the tobacco industry and to lobbyists including Jack Abramoff.

Obama says $18 billion in earmark spending.[2] says:

For fiscal 2008, the budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense said there was $18.3 billion earmarked in spending bills. Citizens Against Government Waste came in at $17.2 billion. The Office of Management and Budget tallied earmarks at a mere $16.9 billion. In 2006, the Congressional Research Service, which used a different definition of “earmark” for each of the 11 spending bills it studied in that year, came up with over $67 billion.

McCain says pork has tripled in the past five years.  According to the aforementioned CAGW[3]:

Year Cost Count



















McCain says US has 2nd highest business tax in world @ 35%.[4] says:

U.S.’s combined federal-state statutory corporate tax rate (39.3%) is now well above the weighted average for both the member nations of the OECD (31.9%) and the larger G-7 countries (33.8%).

Obama says Biz actually pays one of lowest tax rates from loopholes.[5] says:

In 2005, 28 percent of large foreign companies doing business in the United States (those with more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in sales) paid no taxes.

Spending 2

Obama says end dependence on foreign oil with alternatives.[6] says:

According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), public transportation in the United States saves approximately 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and about 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Yet only 14 million Americans use public transportation daily while 88 percent of all trips in the United States are made by car—and many of those cars carry only one person.

McCain says eliminate ethanol subsidies.[7] says:

“Ethanol is a product that would not exist if Congress didn’t create an artificial market for it. No one would be willing to buy it,” McCain said in November 2003.


“I support ethanol and I think it is a vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects,” he said in an August [2007] speech in Grinnell, Iowa, as reported by the Associated Press.

[Of course because Obama is doing so well in Iowa, he can safely resume his earlier stance – Ed.]

McCain says “spending freeze on everything but defense, VA, and entitlement programs.”  Internet has nothing to say.

McCain says “We’re sending $700 billion a year overseas … some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.”[8] says:

Under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in March, banana giant Chiquita Brands International acknowledged it had paid $1.7 million to Colombia’s paramilitary groups.

The Police Action in Iraq

McCain says he came back from Iraq in 2003 calling for a change in strategy.[9] says:

“When I say more troops, we need a lot more of certain skills, such as civil affairs capability, military police. We need more linguists,” McCain added. [August 2003]

Obama says Al Qaida is the strongest they have been since 2001.  Times of India[10] says:

In recent months Yemen has seen a series of attacks on security services and oil installations claimed by groups linked to al-Qaida, with two attacks on US targets in the past six months.

McCain says there’s a difference between a tactic and a strategy.[11] says:

Entry Word: method

Synonyms approach, fashion, form, manner, strategy, style, system, tack, tactics, technique, way

McCain says Admiral Mullen said Obama’s withdrawal plan is dangerous.[12] says:

WALLACE: But I’m asking you in the absence — forget about Obama. Forget about the politics. If I were to say to you, “Let’s set a time line of getting all of our combat troops out within two years,” what do you think would be the consequences of setting that kind of a time line?

MULLEN: I think the consequences could be very dangerous in that regard. I’m convinced at this point in time that coming — making reductions based on conditions on the ground are very important.

The War in Afghanistan

Obama says the poppy trade is exploding.[13] says:

Farmers in a country that ranks among the poorest in the world, Mullen said, have little choice but to cultivate poppy to sell to insurgents, who turn profits from opium trade on the black market despite Afghan drug laws and national drug controls.

McCain says he is not prepared to strike in Pakistan.[14] says:

McCain said the war in Iraq was part of the fight against Islamic extremism, “the greatest evil, probably, that this nation has ever faced.”

“Osama has been able to get out a message of hate and to recruit, instruct and motivate these jihadists,” McCain said, pledging again to nab al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden even if it means “following him to the gates of hell.”

Obama says that McCain said we could muddle through Afghanistan.  YouTube[15] says:

“I’m not as concerned [about Afghanistan] as I am about Iraq today, obviously”, McCain said, “… in the long term we may muddle through in Afghanistan.” Guy Fawkes Day, 2003


Both say we cannot tolerate, afford, or allow for the Iranians to develop nuclear fission weaponry.[16] says:

It is therefore safe to infer that his populist message of economic equality struck a chord with the downtrodden who were more interested in bread and butter, and for whom Rafsanjani’s rhetoric about political and cultural liberalisation and improving relations with the US had little appeal. Rather, at a time when Iran is facing intense pressure from the US over its nuclear programme, any talk of improving relations with the latter was unlikely to have gone down well with the staunchly nationalist Iranian people.

Both argued about Kissinger’s position on Iran and whether there should be talks with them.  McCain characterized Obama’s position as one of throwing an orgy for Ahmadinejad while Obama characterizes his own position as having preparatory talks with Iran with the possibility of brokering a deal and eventual Presidential talks.[17] says:

Kissinger, speaking Monday at George Washington University along with four other former U.S. State Department secretaries, said the next president should initiate high-level discussions with Iran “without conditions,” ABC News reported.

[Ed: There is a history of diplomacy when dealing with someone like Ahmadinejah, where if they have to bow and kiss the ring… you have to let them save face or you’ll get nowhere.  But most of the time if they can come out looking strong before their daughters and sons, they will back down and go along.  I cut the rest of the section on Iran because obviously most Americans and especially those involved in politics are not ethically mature enough to be the “bigger man” in such a scenario.  If the bombs may fall, the smaller men will surely perish and the meek shalt inherit the earth.]


McCain says that Russia is run by the KGB.[18] says:

While Putin proudly acknowledges his time in the KGB, others do not, yet their résumés are filled with postings that former KGB officials cite as common covers for the intelligence agency.

Obama says we can’t drill our way to energy independence.[19] says:

Over the next four years, we are likely to witness the greatest mass exodus of vehicles off America’s highways in history. By 2012, there should be some 10 million fewer vehicles on American roadways than there are today—a decline that dwarfs all previous adjustments including those during the two OPEC oil shocks.

Another September 11, 2001 Attack on the USA

McCain says we can’t leave Iraq because Al-Qaida will move in.[20] says:

In a world of bad options, a phased withdrawal is the least bad one out there.


With the U.S. drawing down, Iraq would diminish as a focal point of anti-Americanism. With most U.S. troops exiting the region, Washington would have more leverage with Iran, which has continued its march toward nuclear weapons while the U.S. has been bogged down in Iraq. And most important of all, the U.S. would regain the military, economic and intellectual bandwidth it once employed to advance its interests elsewhere and start rebuilding its reputation overseas.

Obama says we have weakened our capacity to project power around the world because we’ve been focused on Iraq.’s response above (2nd graf) is a response to this as well.

McCain says Obama hasn’t admitted the surge succeeded.[21] says:

As recently as July, the Democratic presidential candidate declined to rate the surge a success, but said it had helped reduce violence in the country. […] Obama acknowledged the 2007 increase in U.S. troops has benefited the Iraqi people.

“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” Obama said while refusing to retract his initial opposition to the surge. “I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

McCain also said the veterans support him.[22] says:

The fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain’s haul.

In closing, McCain said he helped to resolve the Vietnam POW/MIA issue.  The Nation[23] says:

The PAVE SPIKE file has never been declassified.


Well, that’s that.  One down, two and a half (Veep candidate debates only count as half debates) to go.

Hope you enjoyed the internet’s commentary.

  1. Citizens Against Government Waste – Wikipedia
  2. The Budget According to McCain
  3. Citizens Against Government Waste: Pork Barrel Report
  4. The Tax Foundation – Comparing International Corporate Tax Rates
  5. Corporate Taxes |
  6. Public Transportation – Fast Track to Fewer Emissions and Energy Independence
  7. John McCain flip-flops on ethanol on the Iowa campaign trail – November 13, 2006 –
  8. Terrorism and Bananas in Colombia – TIME
  9. John McCain’s real war record | Salon News
  10. Al-Qaida finds new bastion in Yemen: The Times of India
  11. method – Synonyms from the Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus
  12. – Transcript Adm. Mullen on Fox News Sunday
  13. Hawaii Reporter – Narcotics Trade Fuels Afghanistan Insurgency
  14. JS Online: McCain promises to battle ‘radical Islamic extremism’
  15. YouTube – John McCain: Speech 11/05/03
  16. Elections in Iran –
  17. Kissinger: Open direct Iran talks –
  18. How Putin and his ex-KGB pals took over Russia’s economy. – Sep. 9, 2008 –
  19. StrategEcon: Heading for the Exit Lane
  20. How to Leave Iraq – TIME
  21. – Obama: Surge Succeeded Beyond ‘Wildest Dreams’ – Election HQ
  22. OpenSecrets | Troops Deployed Abroad Give 6:1 to Obama – Capital Eye
  23. The Nation – Why Has John McCain Blocked Info on MIAs?

Res Ipsa Loquitur: Campaign Ads and Facts

Today some links.

McCain-Palin Distorts Our Finding: was used in a recent campaign advertisement for John S. McCain and Sarah L. H. Palin.  Problem is, according to, the use of their quote and their name is a distortion of reality.

… we’ve also asked that “the editorial integrity of the article be preserved” and told those who use our items that “you should not edit the original in such a way as to alter the message.”

Hell.  That’s something that you can learn in just about any school in America.  What’s wrong with these people?  Good, old-fashioned, down-home, American editorial prowess is too much for them?  And they want to lead our country?  God help us, God dammit, if they manage to pull this one off.

What’s John McCain gonna be for Halloween?  Wrong.

PCL: Campaign 2008: This is one I probably should have known about by now, but I’m glad to have found.  The Stanford Political Communication Lab publishes the official ads of the presidential campaigns.  A good resource if you don’t watch a lot of ads on tv.

Well, two is a nice, round number.  So that’s what you get for today.  Enjoy.


The Issues of the Campaign (Websites)

I was looking today at the two candidates’ websites, at their issues and noticed something odd. John McCain’s website puts education dead last on the issues page. So, I decided to compare it to Barack Obama’s website.


McCain Issue List
McCain Issue List

McCain’s site lists 12 items on its menu one of which links to the index of the issues (16 on the index page itself).  The disconnect between the menu and the index:

The page calls it Immigration, the list calls it Border Security

Judicial Philosophy, National Heritage, and Agricultural Policies don’t appear on the list but do appear on the index

Education is 6th on the list, but 16th on the index, way at the bottom.

The ordering of the issues can only reasonably be assumed to have something to do with his or his campaign’s priorities or the issues’ perceived impacts with the voters.  Putting education damned last with no rhyme or reason sends a clear message, which is oddly exactly what Obama has proclaimed of late: It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

McCain’s site has far fewer issues listed than Obama’s in the first place and I doubt he even knows what kinds of things would fall under a Women Issues heading.  He’s got a Human Dignity & Life or Sanctity of Life issues section (depending whether you consult the list or index; he’s got consistency issues as well).  But that doesn’t include things like equal pay or glass ceiling or day care in the workplace, for example.


Obama Issue List
Obama Issue List

His site mirrors the list on the index.  The issues are alphabetically listed.  The minor difference comes with the index page linking to a PDF on his policy at the top while the list places it at the bottom.  Also the list contains a link to Additional Issues that the index page does not.  Oh, and another minor difference: the index page leaves off Women.  Maybe that’s because the alphabetical listing would have put women at the bottom, but I’m not sure.

Obama’s only real flaw is, ahem, LEAVING OFF WOMEN.  Other than that the two are identical.  And alphabetical which justifies the order.  Women should be on the index page even if you have to rename them to Females to give them higher billing, dammit.

The Obama campaign is obviously more tactful and sensitive to making good choices about even minor details like the order of a list.  They understand that arbitrary ordering can only lead to people judging that order and the motives behind it.  They also understand that these issues aren’t one-off shots each standing on their own and that they effect each other and need addressing.  They’re taking a wider look at the world that the McCain camp probably dismisses quite readily, being from the truly elitest party.


Anyway, this has been a brief look at the issues list and issues index page for both the campaign websites.  Boiled down to a single-digit integer between 0 and 9 (from a pure design standpoint discounting the content of the issue items themselves) I’d give McCain’s list and index a 4 and Barack Obama’s a 7.


Rail and the Election

Progress Illinois had a brief piece about the differences between Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama when it comes to mass transit. They also tap a DCist piece from earlier in June that’s worth a read about Obama’s history of supporting mass transit. [Read: Obama vs. McCain on High-Speed Rail – June 17, 2008]

The Boston Globe has an article from the beginning of July on Sen. McCain’s long track-record of anti-Amtrak votes and sentiments. [Read: McCain’s agenda on Amtrak]

For all he does, though, I don’t believe that Obama makes it as central to the campaign as it should be. Look at Europe and Asia and how much they are doing and have done with trains. Imagine how much gas we could save and how much better our lives could be. It should be Obama standing up in front of the tens of thousands proclaiming, “We’ll choose to go at excess of 300 km/h not because it is easy, but because it’s awesome.”

And given that his wife seems to think everyone should just fly around whenever and wherever they need to go, Sen. McCain’s stance is not really surprising. For whatever reason the massive economic boon that a comprehensive system of rail technologies could bring to every region of this country isn’t important to him or the so-called pro-market party.


Obama’s Friends

Welcome to the MSM‘s latest revelation: black people go to church! All of the recent controversy about Senator Obama‘s church and the inflammatory remarks of black preachers he has affiliated with has led to the new discovery that African Americans have a spiritual life.

And get this: their preachers say ludicrous crap from time to time just like other priests, preachers, rabbis, and imams. Amazing.

The controversy is manufactured. Anyone who didn’t already know that this kind of rhetoric is used by preachers in black churches all over America is obviously so out of touch their commentary should be discounted.

Senator, were you aware that Dr. Wilburn was a mad scientist?

Well, over the 14 odd years I’ve known him he’s often talked about amateur rocketry and shown me his research papers published in Journal of Laser Applications, but honestly this is the first I’ve heard of his plans to build a space laser.

The problem is, Dr. Wilburn, like these preachers who are being used to attack Senator Obama, are often incoherent. Their emotions outpace their brains and they say some stuff that, really, doesn’t make sense. But the impetus behind their words are realities that have existed for hundreds of years. Their overall point is lucid.

And that’s exactly what Barack Obama said in his notable speech on race in America. It’s clear that there are issues with race in this country and that we have much work to do in that arena. It’s also clear that many black preachers take liberties when directing a sermon to what they believe is a specifically targeted audience. That includes some pretty heavy-handed, ultimately irrational, blanket statements about this country.

Should it be toned down? Yes. Should the people who say these things be reminded that as they have taken it upon themselves to be shepherds in the absence of their Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazarus, the Christ, the Lamb of God, et al. they have a duty to uphold his teachings and take pains to understand them clearly and relay that lucid understanding to their patrons? Duh.

But should a member of such a congregation be held accountable or be viewed as having endorsed those tirades? No. If any member of any church wholly subscribes to every word from the pastor’s mouth let him be cast upon by the first stone. And the zeroeth stone to the man who casteth the firsteth.

In the modern vernacular, some people go to church to do the work of their God, not because the preacher is particularly correct. Especially in the case of a politician, the opportunity to meet with community members and seek out lasting progress for their community, state, and nation, can start in a church. This is nowhere more true than in a black church where it is often less formal and more communal than in white churches.

Most of the time a sermon will tread heavily on positive aspects of life and serve as a weekly reminder to live spiritedly and hold forgiveness close to the heart, and the like. And that’s as uncontroversial as it can get. I challenge the MSM to pull up some of those recorded sermons from these preachers and find controversy in them. And when that’s the sermon, there’s no problem. Only when the preacher has a thorn in his side and feels like he should pull it out before his patrons, it is foremost not in the spirit of the Christ. But more than that, his motivations must be questioned.

And you’ll notice that most of my discussion here keeps focusing on the preachers, not on Obama. Why is that? Because Obama didn’t say these things, didn’t endorse these things. Those preachers said them. They, and their words, are what it is appropriate to address. The only questions to Obama should be, “Do you agree with them?” And he’s already answered that one. Time to move on.