The Rants of Issachar

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm a Christian and I would prefer an Obama Presidency

My friend Caleb said he'd be interested to read a post on how I reconcile reconciling my support for Obama and your faith, so here it is.

The short answer is "fairly easily".

I assume that the real issue behind his question is how I can reconcile Obama's stance on abortion with my faith. To be sure Obama has one of the most extreme positions on abortion in US politics. (And that's saying something). As far as I can tell he has yet to support any restriction on abortion at any time for any reason. This leads me to conclude that he believes that abortion is legitimate at any time for any reason. I disagree, and I don't think many people (American or Canadian) agree with Obama on this. All other things being equal I would prefer a candidate who did not have such extreme views.

By contrast, McCain has more moderate views. (I believe he supports some restrictions on abortion, but not outlawing it entirely, someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

But will a McCain Presidency make any difference to abortion law in the US compared with an Obama one? I suspect that it would not. McCain has explicitly stated that he will not apply an abortion litmus test on Supreme court appointments. If this is the case Roe vs. Wade will not be overturned. Where Obama's Presidency might make a difference is if he were to veto a bill restricting abortion. But I don't think this should be a concern if congress actually passed a reasonable law. Obama's main stated reason for not voting for abortion laws is when they don't contain exceptions for "the health of the mother". Many point out that "health of the mother" could mean anything. That's true, but who's fault is that? A 21 year old intern could write a bill that explicitly laid out acceptable health risks for which late term abortions could be allowed or not allowed. If congress can't get it's act together enough to write a bill that lays this out clearly, then I think the fault for that lies with congress. And if a bill comes up that outlaws abortion regardless of any risks to a woman's health, then any Christian should vote against it. I think that President Obama would have difficulty vetoing a bill that had wide public support. Especially in his first term.

So as far as abortion goes, I suspect that there would be no practical difference between an Obama Presidency and a McCain one. I'm sure there would be huge rhetorical difference, but I'm not interested in that.

Caleb also sent me a link to what he described as the best objections to Obama in one place. I don't think they really related to "reconcilling my faith and my support of Obama, but here's my reaction:

Already discussed.

Not terribly relevant as a "faith objection to Obama". Obama's tax proposals are consistent with Christian faith.

Radical Associations.
Again, not terribly relevant, but Obama has stated that he does not agree with Jeremiah Wright's anti-white preaching. I see no reason not to believe him. I think the Bill Ayers thing says more about Palin than it does about Obama. Palin implies fairly regularly that Obama supports terrorists. Really, talking about "radical associations" is nothing more than an attempt at guilt by association. "These people are bad, Obama knows them, therefore he's bad". I expect more.

I know very little about the ACORN thing. What I do know is that Americans have an absolutely ridiculous system of running elections. It's not that hard. Canada does it quite well. Have people register. Let them register at the polls if they can show ID that shows where they live and have photo ID or if someone who meets those requirements will vouch for them. Keep track of the registrations, and go after people who violate the voting laws using the information they provide when they vote. And for crying out loud, use paper ballots! Run your elections properly and you won't have problems like ACORN. And stop gerrymandering the districts.

As I understand it, the issue with ACORN surrounds getting voters registered and people registering non-existent voters. I'd be a lot more sympathetic if both parties hadn't both tried to make voter registration difficult in areas less likely to vote for them. Until the Republicans & Democrats clean up their acts, it's a plague on both their houses for me.

Foreign Policy
Admittedly this is one of my concerns about Obama and one reason I initially supported McCain. It's obvious by now that invading Iraq was a mistake overall, but just picking up and leaving would be a bad idea too. Two errors do not cancel each other out. Fortunately that's not Obama's position and while I'm not completely convinced that Obama has it right, I don't think McCain knows what to do either. Given how much the will of the American people to prosecute the war properly was damaged by the Abu Ghraib thing and the Guantanamo mess, McCain's flip flopping over torture is more than a little troubling. The US can win the war. It can't win it if it loses heart of the American public. Torture is immoral, and water boarding is torture. Handing people over to be tortured along with a list of questions to be asked is also immoral. The US public knows this, and I'm a tad concerned that McCain doesn't.

That pretty much covers it.

:: posted by issachar, 1:35 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama

Wow... That's an incredible endorsement. Colin Powell continues to impress me. He's absolutely right too.

I was initially in favour of John McCain. The questions about Obama's experience were quite legitimate. Furthermore, I was disappointed in his apparent anti free trade attitude. Free trade has overwhelmingly benefited the United States, (and Canada), and a President opposed to free trade would be bad for the US and Canada.

But for the most part I wasn't concerned about the US election. There are things I didn't like about both candidates, and either one would make an acceptable President. I'm also a Canadian, not an American.

Then McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. I'd never heard of her, so I had no opinion, but the almost immediate and bizarre conspiracy theory that she'd faked her last pregnancy and that her son was really her daughter's baby struck me as unhinged. That wacko theory didn't originate in the Obama campaign, but it did make me highly suspicious of all the later criticisms of Sarah Palin. That the CBC actually ran the story days after it had been discredited also made me highly skeptical of criticisms of Palin. (Not to mention Heather Mallick's odious piece that the CBC published and later pulled from their website). (Why do news organizations pull the piece off the net rather than simply adding their repudiation of the piece to the top of the page?)

But then I watched the Biden/Palin debate. And the Republican campaign started getting really, really ugly. And then I watched the last McCain/
Obama debate. (I watched both debates on YouTube well after they aired). Palin's performance in the debate showed her to be inadequate for the job of Vice President. She might make a good lieutenant for a culture war, but I can't see anything positive that she could contribute. McCain was not as drastically outclassed by Obama as Palin was by Biden, but he was outclassed nonetheless. Powell states my opinion of McCain's economic platform more eloquently than I can. Obama's comments about trade assuaged my concerns that he is as opposed to free trade as I thought he might be.

And then there's the ugliness of the Republican campaign. Elections are combative, and the pathetic attempt to make Obama appear foreign with the constant repetition of Barack Hussein Obama was bad enough. Seriously, did anyone keep repeating Ronald Wilson Reagan or James Earl Carter during their election campaigns?

But when you've got supporters at a rally shouting "terrorist" and "kill him" when Palin asks them "Who is the real Barack Obama?", there is a massive problem. One must immediately, loudly and frequently rebuke such venom. Palin did not and I was thoroughly unimpressed with McCain's whining in the last debate about Congressman John Lewis' comparison between Palin ralies and George Wallace's rallies. It's not an outrageous comparison. It's a legitimate one and the McCain campaign has utterly failed to get rid of that albatross.

John McCain might well have made a good President. But he's not the best of the two options.

:: posted by issachar, 1:03 PM | Permalink | 7 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Canadian Election 2008

I haven't posted anything about this election on my blog and I think I've posted very few comments about it on other people's blogs compared with previous elections. But I think I'll do at least one... Now that Raphael's not allowing comments on his blog due to an excess of nasty comments, I might actually have to go back to writing on my own blog for a change.

The election is in two days and I'll be voting for Stockwell Day, (Conservative). We've got a secret ballot, and while no one should ever feel obligated to reveal their choice of candidate, I don't have a problem with doing it myself. I also find it useful to me to write down my own thoughts, and I don't do a diary.

My reasons not to vote Conservative:
  1. I didn't want this election to happen at all. I was quite happy with the minority parliament we had and I thought the Conservatives were running it well. There's also that minor detail about violating the spirit of the fixed election dates law.
  2. The Conservatives plan on copyright law. It was a bad law and a disquieting sign of incompetence. One hopes they won't be so stupid as to reintroduce it.
My reasons to vote Conservative:
  1. For the most part, (copyright law being an exception), I'm happy with the Conservatives performance in government. They've actually succeeded in getting things accomplished in a minority government despite being not particularly well liked by the opposition. Their economic record has been good and has continued the good economic performance of the previous Liberal government.
  2. Stockwell Day is my local candidate. I was not impressed with him when he was leader of the party. I think it was a mistake when he replaced Preston Manning. But to his credit, Stockwell Day accepted a demotion from party leader and proceeded to do his job acceptably well. I think that shows a humility and a willingness to simply do his job without being top dog that is sorely lacking in most members of parliament. Certainly I can't think of another party leader who has done the same thing.
  3. The Conservatives under Harper have become a party of incremental changes. One might actually say small-c conservative. This is in marked contrast to the so-called "conservatives" running the Republican party in the US. This article in the Atlantic drove home to me the difference between the faux conservatism of the Republican party and true Burkean conservatism. (Although I wonder if what the author would make of John McCain's more recent actions).
  4. The Liberal party has managed to completely throw away any chance I had of voting for them. That almost merits a whole section of it's own actually. I'm not a dyed in the wool, guaranteed Conservative voter, but the Liberals have thrown away any chance of my voting for them, while the NDP and the Greens have yet to give me a single reason to vote for them.
Why I'm not voting Liberal
  1. I think it's pathetic that they're still relying, (even to a diminished degree) on the "Harper = Bush, he's a neo-con, he's got a hidden agenda" baloney. It's demonstrably false and it's a sad statement on Canadians that a large number of them still buy it. If you want to fight an election against Bush, go back in time and run for the US Presidency. As long as you're doing this, I have a strong reason not to vote for you.
  2. The Green Shift is a plan of massive scope and plans of massive scope. As such it's likely to contain serious problems. All plans of massive scope do. That's why you develop & implement them slowly to catch the errors, but what I've seen from Dion is that he thinks it's a good idea to start now and worry about the details later. Not that it's that good a comparison, but the last time someone decided to act immediately and worry about the details later the US invaded Iraq. I don't think that acting on climate change is a bad thing. But it IS a complicated thing.
  3. Most of what I hear in this election from the Liberals is about how bad Stephen Harper is. I hear more about that than I do about the Green Shift by a hefty margin. But most of the reasons I hear from them about Harper being bad are a false. Leaving aside the aforementioned ridiculous Bush comparison we can look at the Harper hates the arts claim. The cuts were minor, but to hear the Liberals talking you'd think that Harper was going around burning art galleries. And then there was Margaret Atwood's ridiculous claim that "The Arts" generates $87 billion for the economy, and that this is imperiled by the Conservatives cuts. This is apparently true if by "The Arts" you mean anything to do with advertising or the people collecting your ticket when you go see the next Bond movie. Sorry, but I don't think of the people who come up with the latest Tim Horton's ads to be "artists", nor do I think that they're in any danger from the Conservative cuts. I know that the Liberal platform is not based ridiculous claims like Atwood's, but when that's most of what I'm hearing from a party and it's supporters I have no reason to vote for them.

:: posted by issachar, 1:00 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post