Thursday, February 14, 2008

Word of the Day

Obamacan: A Republican who plans on voting for Barack Obama


Spencer said...

I saw that on the colbert report while running at they gym and laughed, while running. Quite the feat. Marc this is a serious question and stop and think about it for a little bit. Do you think their is any white guilt involved in your decision to support obama? I've asked myself that several times, and I'm not sure if I even know what white guilt is suppose to feel like.

Treidi said...

I have white guilt all the time. I am usually eating a big bowl of vanilla ice cream.

I have brown guilt, too. (chocolate sauce)

Marc said...

Spencer - Given that I'm more excited about the prospect of an Obama presidency than I can ever remember being about any candidate president, I'd have to say that guilt never entered the equation. That said, I'm not quite sure I've got much of a clue about white guilt... so if you figure it out, fill me in.

Treidi - You always were a sensitive one.

Spencer said...

One time I stopped to talk to a bunch of black israelites who were protesting on 9th and H. I asked if I could go to church with them, to which one responded that I could IF I either, "paid one million dollars or gave back all of the land my people stole from the indians." I felt white guilt for a second until I realized "my people" were all swedish and didn't arrive in America until 1920. He said nothing about apologizing for all the raping and pillaging the vikings did, so I felt like I was off the hook. I've been excited about this run since the DNC convention in 2004.

David said...

Oh you Democrats with your nominees who make "inspiring speeches" and who don't have "violent tempers" and who don't "live off their wives' fortunes" and who are not "senior citizens"'ll rue the day you put Obama up against McCain.

sommshine said...

So I must know if this is true. I have seen and heard rumors that Obama refuses to put his hand on his heart when the flag is present, and he won't state the pledge of allegiance. I assume you can clear this up for me because if it is true, that does not seem like a good candidate for the President.

Marc said...

You'll be happy to know that it's a fabrication. Here's the Washington Post's Fact-Checker on the urban legend if you're interested.

Marc said...

This post has spurred a lot of inquiries into whether I consider myself an Obamican. While I'm not currently registered with either party, my left-ward leanings on a number of issues would really make me more of an Obamocrat.

Anonymous said...

Which makes total sense.... someone supporting one of the MOST conservative candidates switching to the MOST liberal...

oh wait, no it doesn't make sense. Good think the right to vote isn't based on intelligence.

Marc said...

Anon - Way to hide behind a pseudonym. If the right to vote were based on intelligence, a lot of ideologues who merely spout the party line in both parties would be in trouble. Obama appeals to many of my conservative friends precisely because he seeks to move beyond the hyper-partisan politics that have proven so destructive over the past several years. The way to move ahead on difficult issues like health care, social security, and the war is to bring members of both parties together to forge solutions. Obama is the only candidate in the running with a real shot at doing this in my opinion. He has a proven record of reaching across the aisle in both his years as an Illinois State Senator and a U.S. Senator.

The "most liberal" tagline against Obama is WAY overplayed. There simply isn't a lot of substance to it. It's based primarily on the National Journal rankings which came out recently, but the methodology behind those types of rankings is pretty questionable. Moreover, they're simply not all that useful because they divorce all context from any vote. First of all, the sample of votes they considered was extremely small, they failed to provide a way to account for "missed votes" (which, for Obama who has campaigned this past year, dramatically skews the rankings), and, perhaps most problematic, simply in order to rank the politicians, those behind the rankings had to label and treat every issue as completely black and white, conservative/liberal, without any nuance at all. That doesn't reflect reality. Is there no such thing as a moderate vote on an issue? Who determines what qualifies as "liberal" and "conservative"? Some twenty Republicans voted with Senator Hatch on the Stem Cell bill... was that really that "liberal" of a vote? According to whom? The way the word "liberal" is bandied around today it has essentially lost all meaning.

In closing, the "intelligent" thing for you to do would be to avoid wasting your breath (and your keystokes) throwing out baseless attacks that demean others for supporting candidates with whom you might disagree. Instead, stick to debating the issues and the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates who are running.

Spencer said...

Also, will someone sit down with America's high school english teachers and cover the topic of ellipses. (...) does not take the place of where an idea should be written

Anonymous said...

Look, if we really are voting based on the issues and not political party lines, I really just don't see the similarity between Romney and Obama. That's all I'm saying. Maybe that was the idea I should've written instead of my ellipses.

Kerry (although I don't get what knowing my name will do for you, but since you asked)

smootheP said...

There are 2 issues with Obama that come to the mind of a non-political genius like me:
1. Obama is buddies with Ted Kennedy. Doesn't this seem like a bad predictor of what's to come if he gets elected? When I saw them sitting together holding hands at the State of the Union, I instantly realized I couldn't vote for him. If he's friends with the sleaziest, dirtiest politician of our time, what does that say about him?
2. Obama keeps preaching "change". But he won't actually tell us what "changes" he will make (ok, i'll give him the anti-lobbying change - but that's all I really know about the guy after all the debates I watched - what a total waste of time). The guy seems more like an anti-confrontational smooth-talking motivational speaker than someone who knows what "changes" he will make.

I'm not saying I'm in favor of Hillary - she's just a blonde, reincarnated, lesbian version of Karl Marx (view her proposed health-care reform: how can we want to make health care a govt-backed industry? look at peoples' teeth in some of the countries with centralized HC... can't be a good thing. And look at other govt functions... if you want HC to be like going to the Division of Motor Vehicles just vote for Hillary).

And McCain is a sleaze-bag politician. Did you see him and Mitt going after each other at the Reagan Library debate? McCain = Unilateral A-hole. At least Mitt was defending himself and trying to discuss the issue at hand, while McCain just kept saying "YOU SAID TIMETABLE" over and over, thinking he was winning fans. He just displayed that he doesn't know how to discuss an issue, but instead wants to just argue and try to make the other side look stupid. Don't get me wrong, Mitt (in the debate a week before) took his share of cheap-shot one-liners at the other hopefuls.

And the problem with our 2-party system is that one day we have Mitt vehemently anti-McCain, then the next day he is completely in support of McCain's campaign. That's total BS, IMO. I hate when they align just to defeat the other party. Destroy the party system and just go off popular vote! Why make people align with "the lesser of two evils" they don't agree with just so their vote will actually mean something?

And I will cast my vote for Stephen Colbert's screaching eagle before any of the potential nomination winners.

In case it isn't obvious, I hate politics. Would describe myself as a Trickle-Down Loving, Free Market Supporting, Government should be 10% the size it is today, simplify taxes to a national sales tax, completely open the health care market to competition, Republican Party Hating, Democratic Party Despising, anti-Mel Gibson Purist. And the answer to the next question - no, I'm not a Jew. But I play one on Marc's blog.

King Family said...

i never really get to "into" politics but i really like obama as well. i know that you should vote on issues, ect but he seems like he really is in it to make history, and that makes me excited, we need a change.

Marc said...

Anon/Kerry - Sorry for being so long in responding. I think I should point out that I never made a comparison between Romney and Obama on the issues. I do think Obama, with his post-partisan rhetoric, speaks to those who are disaffected with partisan bickering in both parties.

Pete -
1. I guess I don't have the knee-jerk reaction to ole' Teddie that you do. He certainly is much more liberal than I am on a lot of issues, but he is also someone who has made a career of reaching across the aisle to get important legislation passed. He's co-sponsored a slew of legislative proposals with conservatives like Orrin Hatch.

2. One big change Obama is pushing is for a different tone in Washington. A large part of his platform is creating a "governing coalition" composed of Republicans and Democrats through reaching across the aisle. He's also spoken of appointing several Republicans to his administration and makes a great effort not to demonize conservatives.

3. Your attacks on Hillary are ridiculous. Opposing her universal healthcare proposal is certainly a legitimate position, although I think I part ways with you on the healthcare in general. I'm fully in support of government stepping in to help fix some of the fundamental problems that exist in our broken healthcare system. Contrary to the insinuations you make, every other Western, industrialized country in the world has universal healthcare.

4. I won't argue that McCain threw some low blows at Romney, nor would I dispute your characterization that Romney took his own fair share of cheapshots at McCain.

5. I think you're bound to be complaining about our two-party system for the rest of your life, because it's not likely to change.

6. Wow... we're miles apart on our views on economic policy.

smootheP said...

I don't think it's ridiculous to state that a govt-backed health care program would increase wait times to be seen by a doctor (like at the DMV)... or that making it a govt-backed program would immediately slow the innovation that has occurred in the US medical market due to companies trying to make profits (how has the DMV innovated anything EVER? I don't think they've improved their own process in the past 15 years since I started driving). I feel that competition in the marketplace to provide medical services has brought with it some positive intangibles. The western nations that have govt-backed health insurance also have lines that are much longer than in the US for treatment (like 150 days to get an MRI vs 3 days in the US); PLUS they have significantly fewer resources to spend on expensive equipment (MRI machines, etc) which only exacerbates the long lines, and some services are altogether not covered by govt insurance that are covered by privatized insurance. And where has most of the innovation in the medical industry occurred in the past 50 years? That's right. In the US, with our profit-driven health care system. The govt should be involved as far as restricting frivolous lawsuits and health insurance-related tax breaks are concerned. Let's not make govt bigger than it needs to be just for the sake of saying we have socialized health care.

I don't like a lot of things about the current system, but feel if it was a govt operation that it would lack certain characteristics necessary to provide fast service and an innovative marketplace. My thought is that a mandatory privatized system would be best, requiring people to buy, but leaving it privatized so we have a choice.

Why can't we make health insurance similar to auto insurance? Anyway I could keep rambling on about this, but will just include a description of what I feel would be a good alternative to either our current system or a govt-run system. It's worth the read.

...and Ted Kennedy... I think someone's personal morality should be something worth assessing when they are a public representative. I have a hard time trusting him based on the entire Chappaquiddick incident. Just like Bill Clinton and the Lewinski incident.

Marc said...

Pete - You twist my words. I didn't claim that your criticisms of her universal healthcare proposal was ridiculous (even though I might disagree with the criticisms). In fact, I specifically said that those were legitimate criticisms. What was ridiculous was your rhetoric (i.e., "she's just a blonde, reincarnated, lesbian version of Karl Marx"). It may be true that universal health care could possibly increase wait times for non-essential procedures, etc., but is that a justifiable reason to leave some 50 million Americans without health care coverage or tens of millions of others with coverage that's severely lacking? I don't think longer wait times are inevitable, however, and, in your argument, you actually exaggerate the length of lines and waits. You also say "the western nations that have gov't backed health insurance," when EVERY other western nation has some form of universal health care coverage (as do industrialized "eastern" countries like Japan, etc). Moreover, the U.S. falls behind most of these other nations in virtually ever measurable category of health care quality. So your argument of a reduction in the quality of care falls flat. You continue to make this "competition" argument as though it's an either or scenario. Neither Clinton's nor Obama's health care proposals would eliminate competition. If your idea of "competition" requires that some go uncared for and uninsured, then I don't want any of it. You actually fail to note that neither Clinton's nor Obama's proposals are "that" radical. In fact, both work within our current HMO/Insurance system (I personally wouldn't mind scrapping that system, which I view as terrible, but you have to pick your battles). Your DMV analogies are misplaced and amount to nothing more than fearmongering in my mind. And to answer your question, I have no problem increasing the size of government somewhat to provide insurance for all.

David said...

Why is it misplaced or fear-mongering to equate government health care service with government motor vehicle service? It seems like a legitimate and valid concern to me.

Marc said...

Because you've failed to make a case that the DMV and health care have anything in common at all. For every DMV analogy, there are countless analogy of governmental institutions that work reasonably well. How about the military? Or the police force? Etc. Speaking of the military, the government run health care provided by the military actually provides excellent care at a lower cost than our current system.

smootheP said...

Marc - I'm not trying to fearmonger here... the reason I use the DMV example is because that is one of the few govt services I have interfaced with over the years, and it frustrates me. I mean, we don't have very many govt-run systems here in the US that I interface with on a regular basis, but that one seems pretty representative of others I've used (e.g., marriage license dept, the IRS [I used to do tax work]) - and those were pretty similar in the experience to the DMV (i.e., long lines, slow response time, inefficient process, horrible customer service, etc). I'm open to comparing a socialized health care system to other existing US govt services if you have one in mind. But I have my doubts that her govt- run program will be as efficient and modernized as she is claiming.

I apologize, I thought you would have realized the Hillary/lesbian/Marx comment wasn't completely serious. I should have put a ;) after it. I don't truly believe her to be a full-on Marxist, but she's definintely more socialist than I am. And the lesbian part... well there is a part of me that thinks she's a lesbian. Maybe we can blame that on Bill's rambunctious behavior toward their marriage.

And nowhere did I say that having a competitive health insurance industry would mean leaving out 50MM Americans. In fact, the point of my comment was to stress that I believe we need to have everyone covered and make it a competitive industry where we have a choice between insurance companies/plans and insurers can make a profit by providing better (i.e., faster, friendlier, more technologically advanced, etc) service than other providers in the market, but your comment insinuates that I said a competitive environment would leave people uncovered (as does our current environment). I specifically mentioned a "mandatory privatized system", but apparently you failed to note the "mandatory" part.

The problem is Hillary's plan is that she wants employers to be required to provide insurance for everyone. This system hurts employers and would force even more jobs to other countries because they wouldn't be worth the cost to employers with the added cost. Then, the unemployed would get insurance through a govt Medicare-sister operation (called FEHBP). I have my doubts about this govt agency offering the options people will really want (will be one-size-fits-all most likely, as is Medicare). To top it off, Hillary's plan limits our choices as insurance consumers (as employers will continue to only offer certain plans), which limits competition between insurance co's.

I think we need to truly re-vamp the industry. Make it like car insurance. (Don't force employers to provide insurance for employees (like Hillary wants to do)). This would make plans portable if you change jobs (and you would pay the same amount if you lost your job) and offer people more choices between plans (forcing insurance companies to compete in a more open environment). For those who can't afford, tax help is available. But we should still allow them to choose between different insurance companies and allow the market to compete for their business as this is what drives improvements & efficiencies & innovation.

Marc said...

Pete - Being "fed-up" doesn't prove the "free market" does healthcare better. "Long lines, slow response time, inefficient process, horrible customer service," could easily describe any number of HMO's, cable TV providers, cell-phone companies, and on, and on, and on.

The plain and simple fact is that health-care simply is not a "good" like other goods and this results in market failure. Just like one's safety (say in terms of national defense and police protection, etc.) should not depend on one's ability to pay, nor should proper healthcare coverage. We're talking about people's lives here. Ultimately, you can't point to any country that has successfully implemented a "free market" healthcare system because it just hasn't happened. I can, however, point to a number of countries who run pretty efficient healthcare systems. Most of these countries are much smaller than the U.S., so it's unclear whether a system modeled after them could produce similar results for a U.S. population exceeding 300 million, but in my mind, government intervention is the only way we have a chance at fixing our health care system. Even in the so called "competitive" environment you describe, millions of people just aren't going to be able to afford insurance. Unless, of course, you're suggesting that government pick up the tab for those who can't afford your "mandated" insurance. Tax credits themselves won't cut it. McCain's proposal doesn't provide anywhere near enough to allow people to insure themselves. If, on the other hand, you're essentially talking about a government handout in the form of a tax credit that even those who don't file returns will receive (graduate students on subsidies, the extremely poor, etc.), you're basically talking about a form of universal healthcare.

Funny thing is, as you point out, ultimately, our healthcare system ends up hurting our economy in some ways because many U.S. companies are burdened with paying for employee healthcare coverage while many of their competitors abroad don't have to shoulder those burdens. I'm not wedded to our current system by any means, but, in the final analysis, if we realistically want to bring about change, I believe we're going to need to work within our current system to begin with. Anything too drastic stands absolutely no chance of passage with the various interests involved. Last but not least, I think you mischaracterize Hillary's plan. I'm not arguing that it's perfect by any means, but, ultimately, I think it's one of the better proposals out there. Both Barack and Hillary's plans are actually remarkably similar to what Romney passed in Massachusetts, but just on a national scale. I can send you a thorough analysis of all of the candidates healthcare proposals from the National Journal if you're interested. Anywho... I'm tired and sick. Hope I managed to put my thoughts together in some coherent way.

Rob said...

If Obama wins, I'd make two bets: that within a few years 1) the notion that he's a "moderate" eager to involve people of all political stripes in a meaningful way in developing the policies he pushes will be exposed as empty campaign rhetoric, and that 2) the change he so enthusiastically promises will have about as much substance as his speeches suggest it will, none.

My problem isn't so much the fact that his promises are so big and his stated plans so meatless. (Not to mention that I disagree with the policy stances he has outlined) I suppose my biggest problem is that his candidacy--probably thanks to leaving many of the details blank--has morphed into some kind of strange secular religion, the adherents of which have decided that their Obamasiah embodies the perfection of whatever doctrine they like best regardless of how little the candidate may have said about it.

I just don't think he's given us enough to go on to assume that he believes in or can deliver on half the things his followers want to think he believes in or can do. What has he done so far? He gives inspiring speeches, and he succeeded in being elected to the senate. Those two facts don't automatically lead to what so many of his disciples are preaching as the next step--solving nearly every problem facing America.