The Aftermath: Presidential Debate 2

The second presidential debate is over. Discussion questions:

Discuss.

Comments

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Well, they both answered what they wanted when the questions were inconvenient, not that the questions themselves were necessarily brilliant. McCain seemed to try to suppress his dislike for Obama, but failed, especially with that screwball reference to Obama as "that one". I watched CNN and right after the event (can't call it a debate) ended, Wolf Blitzer, I think it was, commented that McCain obviously "disdains" Obama. Oveall, no brilliant moments, no screw-ups.

    Are they REALLY undecided voters at this juncture??

  • Bill R. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Obama wins both pundits and voters. CBS instapoll of uncommitted has Obama winning. CNN instapoll has Obama by a large margin of across the board voters. McCain had to deliver and he didn't. And his demonstrations of contempt for Obama, refusal to shake his hand afterward, and reference to Obama as "that One" were repugnant.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'm voting for "That One"!

  • Frank (unverified)
    (Show?)

    In other important off-topic developments tonight...

    Greg Oden scored his first (pre-season) basket as a Portland Trail Blazer tonight in their first pre-season game with the Sacramento Kings. Oden has 8 pts and 4 rebs at the half.

  • (Show?)

    I'm still watching it. John McCain seems to not want to answer questions directly. I like Obama's "Step 1,2,3" style.

  • Anthony (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I noticed a few potentially racial comments by McCain tonight, including "voters need someone they can relate to" and referring to Obama as "That one." McCain looked petulant and angry.

    To be fair, though, I thought Obama came off as a little long winded. He seemed more like he was giving a speech than he was talking to normal, average people. That having been stated, Obama won hands down.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
    (Show?)

    OMG. I didn't think I would ever live long enough to see the USA elect a black President. Tonight it really seems like an actual possibility. I hope I don't wake up from this dream.

  • Chris #12 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I was disappointed that neither of them answered the most radical question I have ever heard in one of these things: "Do you think health care should be treated as a commodity?"

    An amazing question that they both refused to answer.

  • Pedro (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Both debaters were unprepared for the "commodity" question. Both ducked rater than make a huge screw up. McCain may not have understood the question.

  • Chris #12 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    You are probably right, Pedro. I am wondering how that one got past the censors.

    I skimmed thru the BO liveblog thing, and it looks like Kari and company were also unprepared for that one--or did I miss something?

    Later on, at least Obama mostly said that health care was a "right", while McCain called it a "responsibility"

  • (Show?)

    Obama said health care is a right and that was all I needed to hear. It also seemed that Obama had McCain in the corner on the Pakistan issue and McCain was acting like a petulant child.

  • (Show?)

    As the only format that allowed everyday voters to ask direct questions, it's hardly surprising that not a single question dealt with the distractions, smears and character assasination that's apparently guiding Mccain's closing arguments. Just this weekend, the McCain campaign admitted it will try to change the subject away from the one issue that dominates all others: the economy. But people care about the very real issues in their own lives, not these phony, tangential things that come across as wildly out-of-touch in the face of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression.

    Obama not only connected directly with voters' concerns, but in places like here in Oregon, he drove up the score in a way that will affect a lot of local races. That's good news for Jeff Merkley and bad news for Gordon Smith.

    There's too much at stake for this election coming down to things like furniture, Jeremiah Wright, or any other manufactured, consultant-driven issue to divert our attention away from this failing economy. Obama dominated, and that's great news not only for our country, but local candidates like Jeff Merkley who are locked in tight races here at home.

  • Zach (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I liked the disparity of health care being a responsibility in the McCain camp and a right in the Obama camp. I know for one that being uninsured affects more than just your health, and too believe that all people have the right to fundamental health care.

    Obama seems to grasp that concept, whereas McCain doesn't even know what decent health care coverage costs.

  • @gmail.comSlappy McDickleton (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I thought tonight was like a middleweight fight in so many ways:

    1) lots of jabs but no knockout power in the ring.

    2) It wasn't a slugfest like the heavyweights like to have, there was a little dancing and lots of moving around.

    3) The weigh-in must have been ugly because both guys looked like they hate the others grandma.

    4) The better man came in with a better strategy and worked it to perfection.

    Obama tied Mcain to what is wrong in this country, Bush and his failed policies. It really was a thing to behold. We may have just elected our first black president. We have spent too long hanging out with the wrong crowd, but things are looking up.

    P.S. I wanted to hear more about what will become of education because that is also a key to what needs to be fixed in this nation. Sustainability, a green economy, real leadership in the world scene and begin with a better educational system K-18+

  • Chris #12 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Obama said health care is a right and that was all I needed to hear.

    Shouldn't we bit a more critical than this, Karol? They both said a lot of things, but we should examine their specific proposals around the war, the economy, health care and other important issues. Obama may say that health care is a right, but until he makes sure that everyone has that right (not exactly his policy), it's just talk.

  • (Show?)

    I'm watching the aftermath in split screen with pundits and the crowd. I love that Michelle and Barack stayed with the crowd and shook every person's hand and had conversation. He's really amazing.

  • (Show?)

    And Chris#12, I've been paying attention to this race for two years. I know more than I care two about both these candidates. I like Obama's place on health care. I like the way respects the need for everyone to have health care paid for by the government. I don't need to write a dissertation about why thinking health care is a right and not a responsiblity is fabulous in a blog comment.

  • (Show?)

    My reaction is here. Essentially, I think the race is over. Barring something wholly unexpected (and it will take something unthinkable--terrorism won't do it, I don't think), it's done. The polls say Obama won independents, again, and the snowball grows in size and speed--away from McCain.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Another confirmation that Barack scores win among independents: 52-34% http://www.mediacurves.com/

  • Senior Cartgage (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'm going to go ahead and say it... these debates actually make me MISS W even before he's out of office. What happened to making it so we could enjoy these debates? I know they are "keeping it on the issues," but can't we have some points that use a joke to drive it home, or "bomb dropping"? This debate was more dry than New Mexico.

  • Brain Hertz (unverified)
    (Show?)
    Did either candidate do anything to move undecided voters?

    Hard to tell. Frankly, I'm at a loss to explain why anybody would be undecided at this point.

    Many Democrats wanted Barack Obama to be more aggressive in this debate. Were you one of them? What did you think?

    No to the first question. He needed to look calm, controlled and presidential, and he did a fine job of that. At this stage in the race, and given the current polling data, McCain is the one who needs to take risks to land punches. Badly.

    Did the town hall format help or hurt John McCain?

    I don't think it worked well for him to constantly have to sit down and stand up, which made him look "doddery" (my wife's description). His attempts to connect with the crowd came off as awkward and, at times, condescending. The whole "my friends" schtick really grates now. I don't know how much of this has to do with the format, but the more traditional debate format didn't highlight negative optics for McCain to such an extent.

    What are you looking for in the third debate?

    For it to be over.

    There's far more to be gained by McCain than there is for Obama in any remaining direct debates (although Obama seems to be doing pretty well in any case).

  • rural resident (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Charlie Burr .... You're right about the audience (and the public in general) being much more interested in real economic and social issues. I wonder if McCain's advisors, seeing the Dow drop 508 points today, didn't steer him away from focusing more on Ayers, Wright, etc. McCain would have risked being booed by the crowd (not to mention eviscerated by the media) had he taken this course. It would have made him look ridiculously out of touch, as though he were mired in minutia.

    Karol . . .

    Don't you think Obama's approach to health care is kind of indirect and incomplete? He still doesn't cover everyone, and he doesn't talk about where the money will come from to cover people who are, in many cases, the least insurable. He still seems to want people to buy private coverage. If we're going to have a hybrid system that allows people to keep their employer-paid health insurance, the most straightforward approach to covering the others is to have a single-payer system tied to the Medicare structure we already have. Frankly, I think the country's about ready for a single-payer system period. Maybe he will figure this out once he gets elected.

    Overall, a good debate for Obama. It will be interesting to see what McCain does next week. He not only has to think about trying to win, but also about the ramifications of a landslide loss. He may spend a lot of time attacking in order to reduce Obama's margin of victory, hoping at least to minimize the damage in the down ballot races. If Obama's current margin in the polls holds, the Dems could get to that magic 60 in the Senate.

  • RW (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Watching the blog and investigating over time has borne reasonable fruit. NOt a thing uttered tonight was new to me, or a surprise. I watch carefully for my bias, as I, too, am voting for That One Nobody Can Relate To. Hah. I did notice something I'd never noticed before: this is the first Presidential debate I recall seeing wherein one debater actually DID go past pure generalities and vapid talking points. Now, Obama did his share of hijacking the minutes and all, but he stood out in contrast to McCain in his ability to marshal up specifics in comparison to his opponent. If he'd had a more adroit match, he might not have looked as good. Either I've not been attentive in the past, or this is truly the first time I've seen a candidate actually commit himself to some detail. Not substantive enough to satisfy, but crumbs enough for some nourishment.

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I want Obama to do the most radical, risky thing you can imagine: FOLLOW THE DEBATE RULES. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS YOU ARE ASKED.

    Go ahead and hijack, go ahead and spin or redirect.

    But first: respect the format and take a chance on yourself, Mr. Obama. Believe in yourself enough to answer what you have been asked.

    And let McCain's wooden, dogged handling stand out in relief. Let his perserveratingly repetitious use of words such as "Best this, Best that, blah blah"... he is mistaken and old school in this approach.

    So just you stick to the business at hand, and try for one go-round to abandon a piece of the tomfoolery that stilts you up.

  • (Show?)

    I skimmed thru the BO liveblog thing, and it looks like Kari and company were also unprepared for that one--or did I miss something?

    Hmmm... well, we talked about health care while it was happening, but I guess we didn't talk about the word "commodity".

    I'm not really sure how the word "commodity" applies anyway, even as used by the questioner. Did she mean that health care is turning into a financial product that's sold, rather than a healing art? OK.

    But if were using "commodity" the way that business people use it - "God help us if our product/service becomes a commodity" - then I'm all for it. A commodity is something that's universally available at a standard quality and the vendor who charges the least sells the most.

    When a product becomes a commodity, the customer wins and the companies that sell it lose. Which actually sounds pretty good as applied to health care.

    (For example, as website technology becomes a commodity, rather than an expensive software product, my firm will no longer be able to make money simply selling websites. Which is why we're first and foremost a consulting firm.)

    (Of course, when products become commodities, the sellers protect their market by developing cartels, restrictive contracts, price supports, and other barriers to competition. See oil, soda pop, sugar, milk, etc. A good lesson as applied to health care.)

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
    (Show?)

    ”Obama said health care is a right and that was all I needed to hear.”

    If health care is a right what about more fundamental things, like food and shelter? Should those be “on demand” services we can expect Washington to provide? It’s disturbing to see what an entitlement society we have devolved into where every need is supposed to be supplied to us by the government.

    Unfortunately JMac wasn’t much better promising to refinance mortgages for those who bought homes when prices where the highest. They both must think we are a timid, fragile people that lack the fortitude to face any sort of challenge.

  • RW (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Buckman: if you want to rant about the outrage of entitlements, why not start at the top, Bucky? Before you stomp the demeaned masses, let's take a look at that Exec from Lehman. Really, really piqued that the Feds bailed out AIG and company, but not him? Peeved that they "let this 158 year old company" fail?

    And really annoyed and surprised that his multi-millions, of course some good sum of it in stocks, but multi-millions beyond that, thanks... he really could not for the life of him understand why there was not much pity for him. And that perhaps his stinking company was not ENTITLED to a bailout... the others just made out b/c it became apparent this was an avalanche, not just a snowball with a rock in it called Lehman.

    So: before you start in on folks who pay until May before the money they earn is their keep, please tell us more about what you think of the upper caste entitled?

  • (Show?)

    The debate also produced a second winner: thatone.com, a "leading developer of eBusiness solutions." Oh lucky day.

  • (Show?)

    Buckman Res., there is actually a whole quite developed body of thinking on human rights that takes up exactly those kinds of fundamental survival issues, together with partially developed international law on the subject.

    I think there is a right to food and shelter. On the latter, if you're going to criminalize homelessness and harass people for failing to have adequate shelter of the approved type, it seems like a logical corollary that society has an obligation to ensure that all people have such shelter, as a matter of right.

    The concept behind food stamps takes us at least part way to a right to food.

    These actually are very old ideas. Ethics of mutual support within communities (albeit often paired with strongly ascribed class and status inequalities carrying differing obligations within the social system, and also often honored in the breach or romanticized) have characterized most human societies before the advent of capitalism.

    A right to sustenance might be tied to a responsibility to work except in cases of severe disability and respect for the limitations of age at either end of the lifespan, but that in turn again implies that work must be available to all of whom it is to be required. If you set up a social system that says anything under 5% unemployment is a bad thing, that starts to run into problems.

  • Llyn (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Lets get on the real subject Everyone is looking for Obama to be more aggresive and stoop to the level of the other party not worthy enough to mention... The last thing America wants is that.. Picture this a black man who people have fear to put in office simply because he is black showing some aggression thats grounds for a complete dismissal... They would consider him an angry black man out to settle the score to history or should I say His-Story....I believe he is handling the situation just how he should the three C's cool,calm and collective..On a more serious note I don't want him to win just because he is black but it is extremely wrong for the better man to lose because he is... The fact still remains people "the land of the Free and the Brave isn't so free for all"... Get off the Race and get on board with the better man for the job....GO Obama Your a man with class and a wife with even more!!!!

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
    (Show?)

    OK, this is off topic, but I'd be very interested in hearing Chris Lowe also comment on the way some societies view rights in a collective rather than individual manner. I'm most obviously thinking of China, but I distinctly recall hearing the same notion of collective rights expounded by representatives of socialist governments.

  • (Show?)
    "Many Democrats wanted Barack Obama to be more aggressive in this debate. Were you one of them? What did you think?"

    Obama already has our vote - he's talking to the undecideds. I would love to see a knock-out punch, but it really doesn't work for those that don't live, eat, and sleep politics everyday.

  • (Show?)

    One comment that I didn't hear (coulda been in the bathroom --beer, you know) is the "that one" remark. If I had, I probably would have lit up the CoverItLive board with a string of expletives --

    John McCain, beyond his detestable policies, displayed in this latest debate the most profound arrogance. His complete lack of an ability to be humble is more than just an irritating character flaw -- it's the same trait that caused George W. Bush to reject outright the largest anti-war demonstrations in history, calling them irrelevant, and to squelch any constructive debate that can frequently play a significant role in improving a proposed policy.

    The "that one" comment, in addition to be a truly offensive comment about a United States Senator, shows us how above it all McCain thinks he is.

    Like Jeff, I think it's over, but after hearing John McCain for months now, the end is not coming soon enough.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    The expectations that people have about debates.... Some want them to be entertainment.(I'll take Sunday night football, thank you.) Some want them to be an intellectual exercise. (Oh, I'm sure that will win votes.) They are a condensed, compressed self-introduction to voters within a constrained and time-limited framework. In this ADD culture apparently it's too much to ask for people to go to the website and read the 20 pt. plan or whatever to find out the details.

    What we had last night were the broad outlines of the governing philosophy of both candidates and a behavioral sample of their temperament. I think that's about as much as you can expect. Debates are not a sporting event, as much as pundits and some bloggers might want. Obama helped himself in his further self-introduction. The voters now have a contrast of his understanding of the common good and the role of government. They see a person of high intellect who has a grasp of the issues and who can articulate a direction for the country. McCain hurt himself further by his lack of grasp on economic issues, a governing philosophy that is more about the private corporate good than the public good. He articulated his aggressive foreign policy that emphasizes the use of military power first. So for most Americans he loses their vote, especially in this historic moment of economic collapse.

    Increasingly more Americans can now see Barack Obama as their president and are disinclined to see John McCain, the angry, erratic, and embittered man, the successor to GW Bush, as their president.

  • RW (unverified)
    (Show?)

    JDW: in a less formalist fashion, my families living in Indian country also live in a more-collectivist way. It can be a bit of a drag sometimes with the mine-is-yours boundarylessness when it is also impacted by a zero-sum SES survivalist thread that is running through the generations; but at the core, it's communitarian. And it can work for a sense of place, thrive as much as it has served for our family' survivals.

  • Glen Jones (unverified)
    (Show?)

    As a lifelong Democrat I feel that neither party is qualified to lead, but what really scares me is Senator Obama and his lack of support for our Constitution even tho he say's he does support it. I am afraid we are headed towards a dictatorship in this Great Nation of ours, the Democratic party has went Leftist.

  • (Show?)

    Here's a clip of the "that one" comment. I'll admit I didn't find it offensive. I know older people who use that locution regularly, and almost always affectionately (McCain's use, obviously, was not). The comment that's gotten little attention that I thought was really out there was when he interrupted Brokaw to say (paraphrasing), "I notice he didn't tell you how much he plans to fine them." It was inappropriate, mean-spirited, and with McCain's weird assault-laugh, creepy. Way worse than "that one."

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Among many others there were two problems with this so-called debate. (1) It was moderated by a corporate hack who essentially decided what questions the "people" would get to ask. (2) Only two people were invited so that viewers were limited to two versions of corporate babble tailored to push polls. No dissenting opinions from the likes of Ralph Nader or Bob Barr.

    If Nader and Barr had been there we could have had them tag-team against Obama and McCain with the former being advocates for adhering to the U.S. Constitution and the latter explaining why it was sometimes necessary to shred it for political expediency.

  • Gregor (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Barack Obama is a class act as is his wonderful wife. The wrap up said it all. The Obamas stayed to shake every hand that was there, mug for the cameras with their arms around people and actually took a moment to speak personally to those people. Thos epeople sure seemed comfortable with the Obamas too.

    Was this elitist? The elitist walked away unable to restrain his contempt for Obama, but also unable to restrain his contempt for the people there. At the end of the debate, he basically suspended his campaign. Obama was still working the crowd, but it hardly seemed like work at all, but a pleasure to share some time with other human beings. He already had my vote.

  • inbf (unverified)
    (Show?)

    It was so very odd to hear McCain propose Hillary's HOLC. He did not credit her for it, but did today. Will Obama agree to this approach?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    This video has comments that should have been part of the debate. Hang in for about three minutes for a replay of Marcy Kaptur's (D-OH) comments on the bailout and consider what the so-called debate might have been if she had been a participant.

  • (Show?)

    I watched CNN for the whole thing. That meter of undecided voters in Ohio fascinates me. Though it's probably pretty meaningless. But afterwards, did anyone else hear Carville's ominous prediction about what would happen if Obama goes into Election Day with a 5-point lead and loses? Shades of Doug Wilder in VA and Tom Bradley in CA. People telling pollsters they'll vote for Obama but then going with McCain when it counts. Now why wouold they do that?

  • (Show?)

    Buckman, I believe health care is a right. If it's not, then what the Hell am I paying taxes for? If my senators can't get me some earmarks for my cash, then what am I paying for? Right now, I cannot see what my federal taxes are paying for beyond national security. Otherwise, I'm not getting shit. I couldn't even hold on to my house on my own. If it really is that we should take care of ourselves, then I want my money back.

  • Frank (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I felt that Obama did really poorly last night. Most of his answers sounded forced, and agree with other who commented above that Obama was in speech-mode rather than discussion-mode.

    Except for the comment regarding his mom's troubles with insurance companies, he didn't really seem to connect. I thought Obama would do well in a casual dicussion format, but he seemed to just ramble on (often getting cut off / reprimanded for going over time). McCain sounded a lot better and had a more engaging tone -- too bad he looked like a bitter & broken down old man (Bobby Lee's excellent impression of McCain should have prepared me for how frail the guy is <img src="http://www.asianamericansforobama.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/bobbyleemccain.jpg"/>).

    Anyway, I don't think McCain said enough to sway too many, nor did Obama do anything to hurt his cause (but in my opinion, he wasn't all that comfortable talking directly to people and answering their questions -- at least last night...first time he's come across as really robotic to me).

  • inbf (unverified)
    (Show?)

    The pundits are annoying, but they are giving citizens what they want. Look at all the posts about how the candidates "looked" and the tones of their voices. This is not substance, but character. Voters do not vote substance (rarely) only character, so it becomes a media fest popularity contest. American idol/idle.

    There will most likely be no improvement in health care. There will not be the $ for it.

  • Steve S. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    McCain's "I know what it's like" thing reminds me of Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck" routine. Does John McCain know what it's like to listen to a rich old man prattle on endlessly?

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    In native communities we say, "That one" all the time. I feel loved when someone points at me with their lips while talking to another, saying, "That one" as the conversation flows on. Hard to explain. It's a subcultural musical cue...

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Karol: hold onto one's house unaided? Heck, I'm waiting to see the resuscitation of my stupid fantasy of owning a tiny little home of my own in my home state some day. Forget a place for my son to grow up in and know as home, as ours. Forget that, it's done.

    I'll settle for something to garden in with grandkids. Maybe.

    Huge f****g sigh. Yup: slightly bitter. Very disappointed.

    BTW: apparently McCain and Obama split the difference on FMAC and FMAE - one each. They both lied.

    :(

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
    (Show?)

    OMG... just got off the phone with a top McCain press aide, in Virginia, on his cell, they are furiously trying to knock down the "that one" line, the HQ phones are lit up with angry calls charging McCain is a racist.

    I could actually hear some of my new buddy's co-workers yelling at him to get off the phone and write up something, fast, that shows McCain loves black folks.

    I guess Virginia is trending Obama, heh heh heh.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Bonus round!

    Did you, like me, wonder WTF McCain was talking about last night when he mentioned Obama's support for a $300,000 "overhead projector" for some museum in Chicago?

    Well, here is a vintage image of the "overhead projector"... which thrilled me and thousands of my friends during our grade school field trips, in the 1960's, to the world famous Adler Planaterium.

    Not exactly the kind of overhead projector they use at the library, not that that they have libraries in Arizona!

  • SidLeader (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Image of o/h projector at:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7068/images/438563a-i1.0.jpg

    Link didn't appear first time. Sorry.

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    BTW: the funding never DID go through, that planetarium still has not received the ostensible pork.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Ya, it should have been obvious to folks who have ever been in a planetarium what that "overhead projector" is.

    Here's a photo, since Sid's link did not post.

  • Chris #12 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think the "commodity" question was about whether health care should be something that folks have to buy at all. I think she may have been asking if health care should be provided by the state, like the fire department. While this concept may be extremely foreign to Barack Obama, John McCain, and Kari Chisolm, it's not too foreign to most of the industrialized world, nor is it very foreign to the 93 co-sponsors of HR 676--National, Single-Payer Health Insurance.

    Right-wing trolls, fire away!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Re: Health Care. The following is an opinion piece I had published in the (Bend) Bulletin in July, the theme of which is that health care for all makes good sense for a nation:

    With health care rated as a very important issue for voters we will certainly have many people pontificating on this issue with “socialism” included in a pejorative manner in their comments.

    The first national health care system for a modern industrialized nation was proposed by one of Europe's most conservative statesmen, Otto von Bismarck. His motivation came not from some Damascene conversion to liberal thinking but from an extension of conservatism in its truest sense. Bismarck recognized that if his nation was to be strong militarily and economically it would need healthy citizens.

    The Labour (socialist) Party in Britain was prominent in pushing for their own national health care system, but they were joined by another staunch conservative, Winston Churchill. Socialists may have have had a humanitarian motivation, but Churchill was more aligned with Bismarck in thinking of the national interest.

    Germans continued Bismarck's philosophy of concern for the health of people serving the nation's interests by taking care of their soldiers in the First World War. While Allied soldiers were wallowing in mud on the front lines, German soldiers stood guard on dry boards in their trenches. When they knew at dawn of November 11, 1918 that an armistice would be signed at 11:00 a.m. that day, German generals honorably told their men to stand down unlike their British, French and American (Pershing and MacArthur) counterparts who senselessly and criminally ordered their troops to continue fighting - and dying - until a few minutes before the signing ceremonies. This oligarchic indifference for the people was part of American culture before WWI and continues to this day. Another form of this contempt for people takes place in the health care system consigning millions of people, including children, to an existence without resources for medical attention when needed and most economically effective.

    As human nature often dictates, people with a lust for power attract the sheep-like masses and together they more often than not prevail over the remaining minority who still believe in the now apparently quaint concept of a right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and justice for all.

    It would be to the credit of the United States if we were motivated by both humanitarian and conservative (in its truest sense) principles, but because our humanity is limited and self-interest tends to prevail let's consider this latter aspect.

    Our present national system (if that is the right word) of health care clearly has nothing to do with socialism so we can't blame that politico-economic system for its incompetence and failures. As a recent article in the Bulletin about the schism between doctor groups and the hospital system indicated, a capitalist environment isn't working all that well in the delivery of health care. In a World Health Organization Year-2000 report on national health systems around the world, France, which has alternated between socialist and conservative governments, was rated first in overall performance. Italy, with a variety of more chaotic governments, came in second. The United States came in 37th. Canada was 30th. Embargoed Cuba was 39th. Despite paying much less per capita for health care, all western European nations, Japan and Australia had better ratings than the United States.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Buckman

    Do you believe a human being should die because they can't afford health insurance? If so, how do you reconcile that with the "pro-life" position of the right?

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
    (Show?)

    inbf said, "Voters do not vote substance (rarely) only character, so it becomes a media fest popularity contest. American idol/idle."

    Consent is manufactured by the corporate media largely through turning elections into personality contests. That the 50% who actually vote do so in order to elect their favorite personality follows from that. Were we to have coverage of substance, we would have voting for substance.

    "There will most likely be no improvement in health care. There will not be the $ for it."

    If we continue to pursue insane objectives such as increased militarization and bailouts of the owners of privatized profits by socialized costs and risks (which both Obama and McCain support), then there will not be the $ for anything else.

    There was no "debate" last night because only a corporatist/militarist perspective was allowed.

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Get the backstory on ACORN from the guy who was sent to investigate them, and then pressured to keep investigating them despite lack of findings of true voter fraud at case level.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95489844

  • inbf (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Harry, agreed.

    I usually like Alexander Cockburn's essays at Counterpunch. Here he writes a post debate critique and says in part:

    "Asked if Russia was evil, just like the Soviet Union in Ronald Reagan's eyes, Obama said yes, McCain "maybe". Trade? Latin America? Africa? Europe? Nothing from either man, though they both agreed that they would flout the UN at will.

    Of the two performances, Obama's was the more appalling since he is meant to be the candidate of change and new ideas. He has no detectable commitment to change and no new ideas. Neither does McCain. Yet the post-debate panelists mostly claimed the Town Hall Meeting an absorbing affair, rich in content. "

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2008/10/the-aftermath-p.html?cid=133920445#comment-133920445

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Harry, you are quoting Chomsky now? How delightful.

  • (Show?)

    Joel, I started to write you a reply about "collective rights" but it is a huge megillah. The beginning that addresses your question about collective rights in Leninist socialist states went like this:

    Joel, collective rights are really tricky because of difficulty of definition, difficulty of identifying who can legitimately claim or assert or enforce those rights, and large potentials for violence or repression in their name. (This is different from collectivist mutualism of the kind to which Rebecca refers I think, which is more about the claims on one another within a collectivity that individuals feel bound to respect and honor.)

    The "socialist" versions of which I am aware, in Leninist states, are particular types of claims about the rights of the sovereign collectivity or state, and class rights (in a broad sense that would include classses like medieval estates, castes, sexes, socially defined "races" or "ethnic groups" and so on, i.e. not just classes in a Marxian sense defined by relationships to means of production, or by socio-economic status however defined in U.S. sociological traditions). In part they're a claim about the relationship of the state to a particular classes, peasants and workers, and a claims to embody class rule by the proletariat in somewhat varying specific ways, usually incorporating the interests of peasants in a subordinated, paternalistic manner. Actual historical practice has diverged dramatically from that theory, of course, in repressive, violent and sometimes mass-murderous ways.

    <hr/>

    However, collective rights long precede Leninist socialism. They would include sovereign rights of variously conceived kinds of sovereignties, outward, and inward towards peoples, esp. to make and enforce laws, levy taxes etc., and conversely, the rights of "peoples" whatever we mean by that, e.g. "self-determination," whatever we mean by that. They would include claims about the rights of peoples as the source of legitimate government authority, and various ways of instituting legitimate governance, including ideas like social contracts or Rousseau's "general will," as well as more authoritarian claims about legitimacy.

    There are areas of "collective rights" that exist ambigously in relation to ideas of powers and privileges, especially with respect to internal social divisions. So there may be distinctive communal rights within a sovereign entity, e.g. those of medieval towns in Europe, or Swiss cantons, or federal or confederal states. Sometimes those might be linked to quasi- or proto- peoplehood, identities that we would in recent decades tend to label ethnic or sometimes racial, so that communities defined by ethnicity or religion and having specific geographic concentration might have distinctive rights or privileges and autonomy (and be subject to greater or lesser degrees of domination and vulnerability, e.g. Jewish communities with the Pale in old Eastern Europe, or Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank today).

    There can also be identity-based collective rights (or rights claims) that are more categorical or classlike and less geographically specific. So the old apartheid government in South Africa developed quite elaborated theories of "group rights" that actually were primarily ethnic though shaped by "racial" ideas -- or in the capitalist era Western world claims of rights to enslave and to be exempt from enslavement based mainly on imposed "African" identity (& to a lesser extent, indigenous identity in the Americas and parts of colonized Asia, esp. Dutch East Indies), and subsequent racialized distinctions of categories of citizenship, restriction from franchise, etc. Or the entire Hindu caste system.

    And then there are collective organizational or institutional rights arising out of individual rights of association within capitalist societies: the right to form internally self-governing economic collectivities (corporations, cooperatives, trade unions, workers councils) and rights of those entities as such; as well as ideas like academic freedom, doctor-patient, lawyer-client and journalistic rights/privileges/obligations.

    Believe it or not this is the short version, the basic points being I think that the Leninist socialist claims about collective rights are IMO particular & rather extreme instances of wider types of claims about sovereign rights & collective rights of people and social classes or categories; that both history and our present are full of all sorts of collective rights that we don't necessarily think about all that consciously; that "collective rights" are hard to define and hard to distinguish at times from mere powers or privileges derived from power; and existing in exceedingly complex and not entirely agreed upon relationships to individual rights, sometimes hostile to them, sometimes being their bulwark, defense and vehicle, and sometimes arising out of them.

    <hr/>

    To marginally connect this back to the thread topic, these ideas affect matters like the rights of various states and peoples in South Asia debated by Obama and McCain last night, and some of their shared presumptions, to competing ideas of the common interest involved in evaluating what to do about the financial and housing crises, to the competing visions of "the role of government," and to the profound issues raised at the margins of the structures of power by questions of how the inclusion and exclusion of parties or candidates in the debates both symbolizes and shapes the inclusion and exclusion of ideas and policies from collective decision-making and thus the fullness of our collective rights to shape the national direction.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    If we continue to pursue insane objectives such as increased militarization and bailouts of the owners of privatized profits by socialized costs and risks (which both Obama and McCain support), then there will not be the $ for anything else.

    And whatever administration is in power will continue to pursue insane objectives and increased militarization as long as the sheep keep voting for sheepherders sponsored by Wall Street and the armaments industries.

  • (Show?)

    Kari,

    On healthcare as a commodity being a problem, I think there are three levels of this. One is that commodities are items that are bought and sold in markets, and rationed according to market principles of ability & willingness to pay. There are numbers of things that even a lot of economists drenched in marginal utility theory/ideology think ought not be rationed in that way, because the exclusions involved are unacceptable -- firefighting services, education up to a certain level, postal services, utility and transportation services that in many countries are public and even in the U.S. subject to strong public regulation of price and distribution in highly constrained "unfree" markets. Arguments like those against exclusion from insurance coverage (insurance being the means of commoditizing broad access to healthcare) for pre-existing conditions point to an idea that healthcare should fall into the category of stuff we don't ration by price-based exclusions.

    A second level is that healthcare as a commodity leads to regarding health from a consumerist point of view -- buy pills and treatments, give ourselves chronic diseases with some kinds of consumption to be counteracted with other kinds of consumption -- which places health as an external phenomenon alienated from us to be acquired by means of money, rather than something internal and integral and shaped by our activities. This leads to economically costly overemphasis on treatment vs. prevention and maintenance, and lack of adequate integration of treatment with maintenance. Kaiser's whole "thrive" p.r. campaign is aimed at combating the effects of consumerist "health & healthcare as commodities" mindsets.

    The third level melds to a degree with the second, insofar as the structure of our market-based health lack of system is based on a fee-for-service model of compensation for both institutional and individual providers, which encourages focus on treatments, pharmaceuticals, operations etc., and also the subdivision of treatment and treatment-related activities into separately billable commodities, and further the folding of overhead and to some degree capital costs into opaque pricing differentially negotiated with various "consumers/payers." This drives up costs in several different ways both in the services & treatments themselves and the administration of the whole mess.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "My fellow PRISONERS"????

    The little angry white man, who voted against the troops, over and over again, has been home for 40 years and he still thinks he's tied up in a Hanoi hellhole?

    It's obvious McNasty is a tortured soul.

    Tortured, like losing in a landslide!

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Thanks to rw and to Chris Lowe for the commentary on "collective rights".

  • Rebecca Whetstine/rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Joel DW: as you know, I stringently control for my own True Believer Passionalista streak. I’ve watched the headlines related to ACORN, and something in my gut told me there’s more to this than a straightforward catch. Based on experiences of a couple of very intense years in the online pharmacy wars that took me to politics, being surveilled, contributing to Papers and policies, being dragged into test cases etc, my guts are telling me this may not be clean, and it will be some time before we know, if ever, what is really going on around ACORN.

    Some context on my gut: I’ve observed a variety of ways organizations can be raided. From a “friendly” but intimidation-based “audit” on the local elderly pharmacist who kept his store doors open to his failing community via a small online pharmacy sideline that paid his bills; to a Federal door-busting which put a woman in prison who was later found not to be guilty but cannot get her record cleared.

    I observed activist Attorneys General round up reliable online pharmacy purveyors in tidy groups of no less than eight, often about ten, then take them to court. The busts were well-timed, there was always a template media build-and-splash; and I learned, on the ground, the media ran any press releases sent by the AGs without fact checking or a concern for having damaged people, business, communities. As one editor of a small Southern newspaper shrugged carelessly to me, “We know that it won’t come back on us if it is not true. It came from the AGs office, so we just run ‘em. We’re protected on those.”

    This was in relation to a local woman who did over four years of federal prison time, the last 1.5 year of it after the charges were REVERSED thrice in the courts. To the last day they had her, Tommy Hardwick of the DOJ was trying to keep her in there! This is a woman who flew to NYC in an effort to meet with FDA in a coalition of responsible online providers. They were given barely twenty minutes, and were then hounded for the next two years. It was not about stewarding the developing portal. It was always about control of the money and power it represented. We followed the money trails: both sides were Taking big from pharma and the AMA. The AG’s lobby acknowledged the small group of activist AGs that had “taken it on as an interest”, but actually lacked a formal mandate.

    I was deeply involved in lobbying the Hill from here; talking to AGs across the country; sent an attorney/spy to the AMA meeting in DC that decided that year to lobby for face to face ONLY-consults for all scripts; contributed to GAO reports as the only voice representing the entrepreneurial and development aspects of the online pharma portals; prodded Dennis Cauchon of USAToday to expose FDA issues (resulted in a defensive White Paper on the FDA site) as well as versioning and international trade issues; blah blah blah…….

    Yes, MY POINT: something in my gut says that the ACORN bust is TIMED and was a set up.

    No denying that that office probably did not practice responsible oversight and they deserve to be raked. This work is NOT their right to do, but a privilege, and must be done with scrupulous attention to detail and integrity. HOWEVER - I have seen blatant falsehoods published as DOJ, FDA, AG press releases. And, knowing directly of the editorial “shrug”, I can tell you that any of the noise we see right now that bears THOSE imprimaturs cannot be taken at face value.

    I feel concerned. My gut is telling me there is strategic action behind the sudden busts much-touted in the press, while the continual and acknowledge abuses of voters (cf. my link related to Montana yesterday) on the part of the GOP are NOT being noised splashily. They are being reported substantively, responsibly, and without garish glare. The truth of strategic and broad voter disenfranchisement may possibly be overwhelmed by this well-timed tabloid push backed by the seal of certain activated Offices.

    <hr/>
open discussion

connect with blueoregon