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Moar politics
cap, captain miss america
No, I am not mentioning pregnancy at all in this post. Except for here.

This was inspired in part by a conversation I had earlier with rainy_day in which she said that her boyfriend and father were both leaning toward voting for McCain because Obama's policy is "too big government."

Now, for those of you who are at all educated on the platforms of the two candidates, that might sound horribly incongruous. Because it is.

Also, for those of you who aren't familiar with either candidate's policies, this is a great time to look at them. You can read them on their websites-- and I will be the first to say that McCain really has some excellent policies on his platform-- including the workplace flexibility plan outlined here. As someone who has great workplace flexibility, it's something I would like to see more employers provide because it does make a difference financially. But on the other hand, his platform includes some inexplicable points such as a dependence on victory in Iraq to balance the budget, which is vastly incongruous with his own statement that he expects to keep troops in Iraq. You can't balance the budget with money you've already said you expect to spend. But I encourage you all to go read them for yourselves. I think one of the nice things about reading candidates' actual policies instead of what you hear them say in speeches is that you might find positives in policies from candidates you didn't think you'd like, and that can make you feel more confident overall that the world isn't going to go to shit if they get elected.

But let's move on to Sarah Palin, since like most of you, I didn't know much about her, and I've been digging around to find out about her fiscal policitesrainy_day's father and boyfriend apparently think that Governor Palin's addition to this ticket helps McCain's fiscally conservative appearance-- one I wasn't even aware he had. I think a lot of people are just assuming that McCain is a more fiscally conservative candidate because the Republicans are historically fiscally conservative. If you look at his policies next to Obama's, both of them are really trying to cut back budget numbers in certain areas and want to spend on projects in other areas-- they just disagree on what should be cut and what requires more spending, but they're both very solidly in favor of cutting expenditures. It just comes down to which of them you really believe is going to do it, and which programs you'd rather see dismantled or beefed up. Palin, on the other hand, is definitely not a fiscal conservative. Let's look at the numbers.

Alaska, her home state, has the fourth highest median income per family in the nation, and the eleventh highest mean income per capita in the nation. Yet their state government receives the most government aid per capita of any state in the nation/. There's something incongruous right there-- why does a state that has average incomes above those of the majority of states in the Union need to be getting federal aid? (Wikipedia statistics)

Because Alaska also has the highest state spending per capita of any state in the Union-- topping the average by state by almost three times as much as you can see in the source materials linked.

Does that sound like the opposite of 'big government' to you?

Okay, okay, you say, but those numbers are all from before Palin's time-- it always takes a few years for new numbers to get to the web, right? Sure. The numbers in 2007, her first term in office, for federal aid? Still put Alaska at the top of the list.

But maybe it takes time to change those things. Sure.

So let's talk about this. That Alaskan budget, the one that's getting more Federal aid per capita than any other state budget in the Union? If you support small government with conservative spending, you'll be happy to know that Palin approved a plan to earmark a quarter billion dollars of her state's money to grant a subsidy to a Canadian company NYTimes article. And demanded the Federal government match that, and give another quarter of a billion dollars to this Canadian company. Yes, a Canadian company, not an American company. As much as I love Canada, that does not show a policy of promoting the American jobs we so badly need, or putting our money back into our own economy. She wanted to send half a billion dollars of American money that could have gone to an American business to Canada.

And you've heard about the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" project that no one had honestly heard of before last week and most people outside of Alaska still probably don't know about except that Sarah Palin used it as her biggest example of how she has fought for fiscal reform.

If you don't know what the Bridge to Nowhere is, it was basically a project to build a bridge to make an airport more accessible. There are arguments that the airport in question doesn't get enough passengers to make this financially viable, but I'm not getting into arguments over the feasibility of a bridge in a place I know nothing about. What I can tell you about is this:

Sarah Palin didn't fight the building of the bridge until after the Federal Government refused to give her the funds she requested. Then, only when the State of Alaska would have had to spend more of their own money on it, did she call to dismantle the project.

Before the Federal Government didn't fork up the money:

Asked "would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?" she replied: "Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now - while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."

Then, when it turned out Alaska was going to have to spend their own money, she said,

"Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island."


This is in stark contrast to her insistence that she told Congress "Thanks, but no thanks. If we want a bridge, we'll use our own money." Basically, she didn't get what she wanted from Congress, so she took her toys and went home. And I don't really blame her for not wanting to spend her state budget on it-- but I don't think it's right to be pretending differently now.

So, yes, there's my take on Sarah Palin's fiscal policies now that I've gotten the chance to read up on what she's done as Governor. I don't necessarily think it's all bad, but I think it contrasts too much with what she claims to be as a politician, and what John McCain claims she is.

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The point is that I discovered that it is generally not worth discussing a subject with someone when neither of you is likely to change their mind because of the other's arguments. You did have some well-reasoned arguments about Palin, but then essentially wrapped it all up by saying it doesn't matter how Palin shakes out because McCain is already a warmongering, bible-thumping misogynist.

The only reason I said anything to begin with is that I was frankly surprised and offended to have such an offhanded indictment of my political knowledge thrown around by someone who I have talked to perhaps twice in my entire life. I felt represented in a way that showed a lack of understanding of my beliefs and generally crafted a straw-man of anyone who is a supporter of one political candidate over another. It's the same thing that happened in 2004, and generally the reason I avoid this type of conversation unless someone else brings me into it, as I stated above.

The comment you take offense to was a legitimate attempt to disengage from a conversation that I never asked to be brought into in the first place. The real reason is that I am pro-life, believe that events such as the laying down of arms by Moqtada al-Sadr represents the progress we've made in Iraq, that I.D. is not science, but there's no real reason it can't be taught as a social theory with important influence in today's world, and that Obama's stance toward Iran is unrealistic and naive of the history of that country's politics since the 1979 revolution. Based on your comments above, and considering that I really am not interested in arguing politics where neither person is going to change their mind, perhaps you can now better understand my earlier statement.

I know you're a good friend of Brenna's, and I hope that someday we'll get to talk face to face, and when that comes, I'll possibly be more amiable to political discussion in general. For now, though, I tend to avoid political discussions in online fora. I've tried it before, and it rarely ends well for anyone involved. I think I may adopt Brenna's stance of simply not talking politics on journals.

Actually, the Bible-thumping is entirely Sarah Palin, and I would assume that you already know that much about the candidates. McCain doesn't support those things, nor does he support the removal of birth control from public use. He does support the overturning of Roe V. Wade, which is something that I can't possibly support. I honestly don't understand how any man who actually interacts with women on an everyday basis can support it, and it's a hugely detrimental part of platform as far as I'm concerned-- especially now that he's added a woman who uses her choice as proof that her religious beliefs are superior-- pro-choice implies protecting the reproductive rights of everyone, whether they are pro-life or not. Since McCain's record is unequivocally anti-abortion, dating back twenty-four years, that's a position that I don't see him compromising on.

I was also not trying to call out anyone who is a political supporter of one candidate over another. If I were trying to call people out in general, I would definitely be talking about her involvement with Assembly of God, which creeps me the heck out, and the fact that she disturbingly went through all of her web pages since Friday, took out the AoG mentions, and replaced them wth "non-denominational Christian." I was specifically speaking on the subject of whether Palin was, in fact, what she presented herself as as a champion of small government. One issue.

And to be honest, I'm kind of middle-of-the-road in terms of how I feel about size of government-- I'm not arguing this because I think her governorship is bad for her state. I just don't think she's the person that McCain is making her out to me, and that bothers me. I don't want to see people voting based on something that they see on TV without checking it out first. I do apologize for misunderstanding your position,-- but if this were just a question of misunderstanding your position, I'm not sure why you didn't stop at "I didn't say that," and not argue at that point. It sounds like this is your position. And the main reason you're mentioned in the post is because I find it passive-aggressive and underhanded when people make posts based on commentary from other people and don't cite it and try to pass it off as if the two are unrelated.

I am actually hugely in favor of religion being taught in schools in terms of social theory, the way you're suggesting, because I think it would really help in terms of tolerance in this country, but that's not what these people are saying. It belongs in a humanities class, not in a high school biology class being taught as an alternative to real science.

I also don't think that we've necessarily made no progress in Iraq, but I vastly prefer Obama's timetable and the idea of transferring our support from military to service-oriented support over the next several years-- a plan that was originally shot down when it was brought to Congress but similar to what the Bush administration has actually begun implementing themselves as of this week. Which actually really pleases me. But I also don't believe we belonged there in the first place.

But I still don't think your earlier statement was appropriate. I don't agree with Katie that I deserve a statement, but backhanded insults are not really necessary. If you don't want to discuss, that is cool, but if I really misunderstood what Brenna said, then this post was never about you in the first place. It can be about you or not about you. If it's not about you, then tell me that you never said those things and shrug it off. That would make a lot more sense than the way you've reacted here, which, and I don't mean this to be harsh, but is probably why your political discussions never go well. I have a long experience of wonderful political discourse with people online, and most of it is with people who disagree with me.

i apologize for sticking my nose in, tea. but it did bother me to see that brush-off comment when i saw something very valuable in the conversation.

I don't mind you sticking your nose in! It's a public discussion, and public discussions are for everybody. I just wanted to clarify that I wasn't demanding a response so much as criticizing the one I got.

"But I still don't think your earlier statement was appropriate. I don't agree with Katie that I deserve a statement, but backhanded insults are not really necessary."

I apologize for any offense I caused, but I urge you to re-examine your statement that flatly accuses me of having no knowledge of the subject, and understand why I felt that I had been openly insulted. Whether or not you meant it that way, that's what came across. I took the entire tone of the OP as condescending toward people whose opinion you only had a vague idea of.

Had you approached the topic in a manner that came off less vitriolic, I likely would have responded by "shrugging it off." I understand and appreciate that you have made your decision about McCain/Palin for your own reasons, but understand that strong opinions, especially ones upon which people become intransigent, do not make for productive discourse a lot of the time.

I'm sure you've learned from Brenna that she and I have both lost friends simply over who we chose to vote for. There was no debate, no discussion. We simply had people who stopped talking to us after the 2004 election. That experience left a strong impression on me.

If you want to discuss the issues of this election with me, that's fine, but please do not initiate the conversation in public using a passing second-hand comment as your source of my opinion on the matter, and then take on a rather critical and frankly insulting tone. I'll discuss politics in private, where such misunderstandings on both ends are much less common and more easily addressed, but I ask that you leave me out of public posts in the future unless you've brought it up with me first.

I honestly did not intend to be vitriolic whatsoever, but I understand why it sounded like that, and I apologize. I think that that is probably something you don't know about me-- I am really not an angry person at heart and I would only ever intentionally insult someone if they did something to actively hurt me or someone I know.

This post was fueled by the fact that I don't like people bandying about hyperbole because they hear a candidate use it, and I generally think people need to be responsible for finding out if what a candidate says is actually what is in their policy. My statement was directed at people who don't. I'm sorry that my perception of your beliefs were flawed, and I honestly would have asked Brenna for more information except that she left for work at exactly that minute.

I actually disagree that strong opinions don't make for productive discourse. I think that the only time opinions don't make for productive discourse is when one person honestly believes that they can change the other person's opinions. That's not the point of productive discourse, and people who enter into discussions attempting to change people's opinions are bound to be disappointed. Discussing opinions always helps people understand why the other party has those opinions. Like, right now, I understand that your definition of big government isn't based on the size of the budget so much as the principles used in crafting budgetary spending. Which honestly isn't a perspective I had really considered and I'm interested in knowing if you feel like states should be responsible for social programs on a state-by-state basis or even a local basis, or if you don't think government in general should oversee social programs at all.

I didn't know you had friends who stopped talking to you, and that kind of strikes me as insane? The only person I know who that's ever happened to was a friend from high school whose girlfriend broke up with him when she found out he believed in evolution because she "didn't want to date someone who thinks she's a monkey." I grew up in a house with parents with vastly different political views, so I've spent my entire life in debates and was raised to think of them as a positive, important part of our civic duty.

although my family environment wasn't nearly that politically different, that's one of the things i really believe in; i believe that it -is- our civic duty to debate politics, to care deeply about the fate of our country, to care deeply about who we elect as our leaders and to, as you have done, get as much information out there as possible.

one of the great failings of my generation, i believe, is that we simply do not engage in this kind of passion when it comes to politics. but that's not really just my generation, it's a trend that has been going on really since the late 19th century, with small resurgences when things get really bad. and i think things are getting really bad, so i am hoping for a resurgance of political passion, especially in my generation and the generation above me.

whatever your politics, be passionate about them. you know?

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