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Thursday, January 03, 20081199340000

Vote McCain. Vote Obama.

The most important moral issue of the 2008 campaign will be the murder of children -- that form of infanticide commonly called abortion. The most important national security issue will be federalism, our 5GW defense in depth against all enemies, observed and hidden. On both of these questions, institutional pressures will almost certainly make the Republican candidate the best choice, whatever his personal beliefs. But such between-group differences does not indicate which candidate from within each party is the best choice.

However, some thinking does. John McCain should be the next President of the United States.



Opposing McCain should be Barack Obama, the best choice for Democratic Party nominee for President in 2008.



America "needs" none of the candidates. We already have the people, the wealth, the rulesets to get by just fine until 2009. Likewise, few selections would be truly terrible. Indeed, of the major candidates only John Edwards would be an actual disaster.

Indeed, I don't agree with either Senator or McCain or Senator Clinton and many issues. And I may be closer on Hillary Clinton in foreign policy than I am to Barack Obama. But the fact remains: John McCain and Barack Obama are the best candidates for 2008, especially if they run against each other.

There are two reasonable approaches to our long war to shrink the Afro-Islamic Gap. One is to go on the offensive: roll back rogue states, building up the infrastructure needed to shrink the Gap. The other is to build a strong defense: move beyond the politics of fear and emphasize the things that make us strongest.

Over the years and decades to come, we will need both of these approaches. These perspectives will help us shrink the gap, building up what we do best while marginalizing the little American Right and the anti-American Left.

Other candidates will still help us when, but they will not be as good. Hillary Clinton's style is so bad that it will hurt the country. Mitt Romney does not have the stubbornness that is so valuable in negotiation. Joe Biden is a one-trick pony. Rudy Giuliani's place has been eclipsed by John McCain's rise.

In tone, seriousness, and importance, and wisdom, no Republican matches John McCain. And no Democrat matches Barack Obama.

Vote McCain. Vote Obama.

Comments

Oh man, I'm all for Edwards (minus his trade stances).

Iraq: Withdraw, leave support for humanitarian relief

Healthcare: Single Payer, Doesn't bolster private insurance, Universal Mandate

Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans: Supports civil unions and inclusive legislation

Civil Liberties/Torture: Anti-torture, don't sacrifice rights or freedoms, anti-spying (wire tapping without court approval, etc.)

Immigration: Let workers earn citizenship, illegals deserve same rights as Americans

Labor: Pro technical training, education for high tech jobs, pro union, green companies - alternative fuels and industry

"We ought to treat the pensions and retirement of the chairman and CEOs of companies exactly the way we treat every other worker in the company." Edwards during AFL-CIO Debates

Edwards all the way!

Posted by: J. Kauffman | Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Civil Liberties/Torture: Anti-torture, "

Should we be anti-shooting to? Or is it alright to kill people, but not hurt them?

"illegals deserve same rights as Americans"

Why? (Specifically, why should illegal aliens deserve more rights than, say, Congolese pygmies [1] who do not have the good fortunate to be born within walking distance of the United States?)

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2007/12/17/the-eaten-and-the-enslaved.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Regarding the last quote from Edwards, does he support that retroactively for all the law clerks and associate attorneys who did research and organization for him in the court trials that made him wealthy?

Does leaving support for humanitarian relief in Iraq after a withdrawal presuppose the ethnic blood-letting that such a rapid withdrawal would cause?

Obviously, I agree with Dan; anyone but Edwards. I might also add, anyone but Huckabee. He is a also a populist of Edwards stripe, save for a few differences.

Strangely enough, year ago, I was severely against McCain. I really loath his role in campaign finance reform, which has done nothing, is anti-free speech, and I think was just a cynical move anyway. I also don't like some of his more authoritarian impulses. Also, he was involved in the Keating five.
Yet, over the course of the last 4-6 weeks or so, I've found myself looking more to him has who I'd prefer out of the current crop of candidates. I like Thompson, but he sandbagged it, and absent a surprise over the next five days, he'll be a non-factor.

Posted by: ElamBend | Thursday, January 03, 2008

I'm anyone but Edwards on the Democrats too. On the Republicans I'm anyone but Giuliani. It's an odd harmony.

Posted by: Steve French | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Internet has been spotty lately because of my move (Trying to get Clearwire today). Sorry I could not participate more in the prior thread about this. Perhaps I can return to it later this week.

I am thrilled to see you share my choices. I can live with either McCain or Obama as president. I think both garner very real and deep appeal from voters on the other side of many issues they stand on, mainly because they respect McCain's honor and courage while they sense in Obama an inherent dedication to compromise and pragmatism.

As you say, a McCain-Obama election would be the best, it would allow a real contrast in styles that does not nevertheless polarize the country, as well as allowing a real debate about what's going on in America because both would have to appeal to the center to win the presidency. Wingnuts need not apply, perhaps we could even get some "Sista Souljah" moments from both candidates during the general campaign for certain members and elements in their parties that richly deserve it.

I am enlightened by your description of the two "approaches" the two espouse. I find this to be (I hope and pray) likely to be the winning combination for us to get back on course and ride out the rough years ahead as well as seize the opportunities now and in the future that have been ignored for too long.

Posted by: Eddie | Thursday, January 03, 2008

I agree with Steve French. And no Dan, its not all right to kill people, either except in emergency self-defense.

The best argument against Edwards is that he seems like a genuine idiot.

Posted by: Adam | Thursday, January 03, 2008

ElamBend,

I agree.

Steve,

Why against Giuliani?

Eddie,

Thanks for the link! [1]

Adam,

Does "emergency self-defense" exclude collective self-defense?

[1] http://hiddenunities.wordpress.com/2008/01/03/beyond-iowa-for-mccain-obama/

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 03, 2008

I agree with you on anyone but Edwards on the Democratic side. I would add, that on the Republican side Romney is just as bad. To me, both seem too much like each other for me to like either.

I'd be fine with Obama as the Dem nominee, though, I'd be very worried about his foreign policy experience, particularly if he goes up against someone like McCain whose experience in that arena is extensive.

I disagree that Biden is a one-trick pony. If anything, I think he's the most qualified candidate, apart from McCain running for President. Most of the focus has been on his foreign policy experience, but like Obama he is also a professor of Constitutional law, something we desperately need after this administration's over reach. He was also instrumental in passing the Violence Against Women Act, and does not kowtow to the teacher's union when it comes to education. Like McCain he looks for ways to work across party lines, without compromising his core principles. He's not reflexively anti-war, and even has a son who will be shipped to Iraq in the next few months.

Hillary would be a bit harder to stomach, after all, how much Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton can anyone take? Apart from that is the issue with her close affiliation with Sandy Berger and how it would reflect on democrats in general, given their criticism of Pres Bush and his commuting of Libby's sentence.

Overall, on the Dem side I would prefer a Biden/Obama ticket, to allow Obama time to gain more experience, though an Obama/Biden ticket would be fine as well, though it would essentially be a Bush/Cheney type of partnership where Biden provides Obama with vast experience he lacks on his own.

Posted by: nykrindc | Thursday, January 03, 2008

nykrindc,

"I disagree that Biden is a one-trick pony. If anything, I think he's the most qualified candidate, apart from McCain running for President. Most of the focus has been on his foreign policy experience, but like Obama he is also a professor of Constitutional law, something we desperately need after this administration's over reach. He was also instrumental in passing the Violence Against Women Act,"

As I said, Biden's a one trick pony. ;-)

Besides being constitutionally obnoxious and sexist [1], VAWA has done a great job giving racist, know-nothing neighbors a neat trick in getting immigrant families they don't like broken up. It's typical of so much modernist. top-down approach to rulesets [2] that has been discredited over and over again.

Biden as SecState or SecDef wouldn't be bad. Biden as President would be as bad as Edwards as AG.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_Against_Women_Act#Criticisms
[2] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/04/12/controls_vertical-horizontal_strong-weak_implicit-explicit_s.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Should we be anti-shooting to? Or is it alright to kill people, but not hurt them?"

This is a question I would like to ask McCain as well, Dan.

I'm not "pro-torture" but find it difficult to be anti-torture in an ethical sense while being accepting of the costs and horrors associated with armed conflict.

Posted by: Jay@Soob | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Good to see you've come to like McCain. I always liked him too and I'm glad he's back in the race. But by bleeding liberal heart is voting for Obama.

On torture, I can only tolerate it if we have substantial evidence that a captured combatant knows about an upcoming mass-casualty attack. And, the government shouldn't publicize this policy. If it's carried out extremely rarely, we should publicly say we never torture but only do so in very very rare and extreme situations.

Posted by: Steve Pampinella | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jay,

Agreed.

Steve,

At least from my perspective, it seems many of those who are upset about the harm that Bush has done to the rule of law actually support abandoning it when it comes to torture.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 03, 2008

McCain/Obama: You read my mind! That, or diseased minds think alike. . .

Edwards: I'd actually be comfortable with him as HHS Secretary-- health care issues seem to be where his real expertise and passion is. He'd be a lightweight in any other position. BTW, Dan, does your statement mean you can see yourself voting for Kucinich?*grin*

Running mates: Actually, I think the perfect running mate for Obama would be Clinton herself. He's got the vision, charisma and a good enough mind to keep Billary in its place; she's got the expertise, campaign experience and money. I'm not sure who I'd pick for McCain's running mate, though Ron Paul would make things interesting. . .

Illegals: As I don't think pygmies deserve to become blue plate specials, I have no problems considering the subject of their rights.

Torture: The problem isn't with the pain so much as the circumstances of its delivery. Hurting someone on a battlefield where they can hurt you back is one thing; hurting someone when they're in your custody and can't do a damn thing about it is quite another.

Posted by: Michael | Thursday, January 03, 2008

"The problem isn't with the pain so much as the circumstances of its delivery. Hurting someone on a battlefield where they can hurt you back is one thing; hurting someone when they're in your custody and can't do a damn thing about it is quite another."

I assume you oppose sniper rifles, or other techniques that make war unfair, are the moral equivalent of torture?

Or are sniper rifles acceptable, because in different circumstances the warrior you are killing may have hurt you?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dan, to answer your question, I consider Giuliani to be a moral cripple, and should not be placed in a position to cover his mistakes.

Posted by: Steve French | Thursday, January 03, 2008

"I consider Giuliani to be a moral cripple"

Why?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Hurting someone on a battlefield where they can hurt you back is one thing; hurting someone when they're in your custody and can't do a damn thing about it is quite another."

And what of collateral damage or the deaths of those who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time? They certainly don't fit the "hurt you back" bill and yet this is acceptable. We accept the violent end to lives otherwise not involved but causing pain for a select few is abhorrent? Sorry, Michael, that dog, she don't hunt.

Posted by: Jay@Soob | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Folks, think for a moment. How often are sniper rifles, or cruise missiles or any other military weaponry used on people already IN YOUR CUSTODY? UNDER YOUR POWER? Living or dying at your decision?

This isn't a matter of fighting unfairly because there isn't a fight here. The fight's done, the enemy soldier is captured or surrendered and under your power. You can do anything you want to him, at any time. The same thing could be said for collateral damage, Jay. Barring a PULP FICTION-style slip of the trigger finger, what's the likelihood of a civilian prisoner getting killed accidentally by his or her captors?

Take all this and add another element: psychology. What would it take, short of extreme mental illness, to walk into a room and inflict extreme pain on a person? Not in the heat of anger, or the chaos and fear of a battlefield, not even from a missile control room or sniper's nest far away. Up. Close. And. Personal.

Barring the above circumstances, what would make you do it? Barring the above circumstances, what would it take for you to be able to live with yourself afterwards?

Posted by: Michael | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jay,

Agreed.

Michael,

"How often are sniper rifles, or cruise missiles or any other military weaponry used on people already IN YOUR CUSTODY? "

Rarely.

"UNDER YOUR POWER?

Depends what you mean by this phrase.

"Living or dying at your decision? "

All the time, if you have set yourself up properly.

"This isn't a matter of fighting unfairly because there isn't a fight here."

I think your confusing the fight with an enemy force with a fight against an enemy combatant.

"Take all this and add another element: psychology. "

So are you arguing against torture on technical grounds -- recoil is too high -- now?

I am amazed that so many of those who believe the moral case against torture is so clear do not stick to a moral argument, but act as if technical arguments somehow are moral arguments.

"What would it take, short of extreme mental illness, to walk into a room and inflict extreme pain on a person? "

Training.

"Up. Close. And. Personal. "

Why. Does. The. Anti. Torture. Crowd. Act. As. If. The. Period. Is. A. Logical. Argument [1] ?

"Barring the above circumstances, what would make you do it? Barring the above circumstances, what would it take for you to be able to live with yourself afterwards?"

The same question can be asked of those who order the bombing of cities, the invasion of nations, or the pulling of trigger fingers.

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2007/10/29/my-opinion-is-fact-period-on-rhetoric-waterboarding-and-tort.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dan -

No, collective self-defense is included. Defending the lives of others is included as well.

Life should be taken, freedom restricted, and pain inflicted only when absolutely necessary. You have to shoot someone charging at you on the battlefield. If there is no other way to stop them, you may have to bomb a building where weapons are being manufactures to destroy your country. (assuming of course, you use proper discretion regarding the reliability of your intelligence and whether or not there is a crowded children's hospital next door)

Morality usually comes down to specific scenarios. This is why technical matters do come into play in judging the morality.

Posted by: Adam | Friday, January 04, 2008

I agree Dan. I'm happy to see Obama do well in Iowa and to hear Mccain is back in the limelight. If those two end up running against each other I am happy either way.

Posted by: biz | Friday, January 04, 2008

Adam,

The reason I asked about collective self-defense because that, of course, is the purpose of torture. I think that "emergency self-defense" is an odd way of speaking of collective self-defense, because the "emergency" situation can last years, if not decades.

Biz,

Agreed. I recall in '05 when I was in Indiana I predicted that it would be McCain and Clinton running. But I hope it's McCain and Obama.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 04, 2008

Dan,

I included "emergency" to make sure I was referring to specific actions - the dropping of *this* bomb or the shooting of *this* soldier. If you're not presented with an immediate threat by a person, killing them isn't the way to go.

How exactly does torturing a prisoner defend anyone?

Posted by: Adam | Friday, January 04, 2008

Adam,

"If you're not presented with an immediate threat by a person, killing them isn't the way to go."

Again, I think you're using "emergency" (or in this case, "immediate") as a loose synonym for collective.

How does killing anyone defend anyone? By improving the correlation of forces, leading to victory.

"How exactly does torturing a prisoner defend anyone?"

Presumably by providing information. This improves the correlation of forces, leading to victory.

It strikes me that anti-torture advocates should decide whether they are arguing from technical (it does not work) or moral (it is fundamentally wrong) arguments. Because moral arguments have no place in a technical discussion, and technical argument distract from a moral one.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 04, 2008

There is a third, cost argument, namely that it is a dangerous tool to put in the hands unaccountable government bureaucracies.

I suppose I would feel differently about the matter if it were done openly, with names, warrants and damages awarded for mistakes.

As of now, what's keeping someones ex-wife's new boyfriend safe?

Posted by: Steve French | Friday, January 04, 2008

As in most areas of life, the technical and moral arguments intertwine. I argue that inflicting pain is immoral unless it is absolutely necessary for defense. If torture is ineffective, than it is unnecessary, and is immoral, even in the 'ticking-time bomb' scenario.

In situations presenting a lesser danger than a 'ticking-time bomb,' torture is immoral regardless of supposed efficacy. I.e., you don't torture a prisoner in order to get a confession so you can secure a guilty verdict.

Posted by: Adam | Friday, January 04, 2008

Steve,

When you write:

"There is a third, cost argument, namely that it is a dangerous tool to put in the hands unaccountable government bureaucracies.

I suppose I would feel differently about the matter if it were done openly, with names, warrants and damages awarded for mistakes."

Doesn't this contradict what you said before:

"If it's carried out extremely rarely, we should publicly say we never torture but only do so in very very rare and extreme situations.

Adam,

Clearly torture is wrong if it cannot work. But it tells us nothing about its morality if it might work. A resilient argument criticism torture would proceed on two separate tracks: "Torture does not work because ___" and "Even if torture worked, it would be wrong because ____." When these arguments are intertwined, it acts as a cheap rhetorical shortcut, and not a substantive argument.

"In situations presenting a lesser danger than a 'ticking-time bomb,' torture is immoral regardless of supposed efficacy."

In situations presenting less danger than a 'ticking-time bomb,' is killing immoral regardless of supposed efficacy?

If so, then (unless you embrace pacifism) you are merely saying "torture is wrong except in cases of personal or collective self-defense," which is hardly saying anything at all.

If not, then why do you have a higher moral standard for hurting people than killing them?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 04, 2008

That was Steve Pampanella actually.

Posted by: Steve French | Friday, January 04, 2008

First,

My bad on switching names. I was having problems with the log in on another blog, I'll maintain this one.

But yes, I said "If it's carried out extremely rarely, we should publicly say we never torture but only do so in very very rare and extreme situations."

Posted by: Stephen Pampinella | Friday, January 04, 2008

You're right, I'm getting technical and emotional arguments mixed up:P In general, this seems to be a similar argument to abortion-- based more on strongly held emotional views than on logic.

One thing before I let this topic go. You're right that, from the viewpoint of a leader giving orders, ordering the use of torture in interrogation isn't substantially different from ordering missile attacks or bombing raids; boss man gives orders in his comfy office for other people to make nameless hordes to suffer.
But there's a very real difference to the person carrying out the orders: the torturer has to see and hear his victims, the missile or bomber crew does not.

You never did answer my question about Kucinich, btw:)

Posted by: Michael | Friday, January 04, 2008

Steve French,

LOL! Many apologies!

(Clearly when I speak of intelligence in other posts, I put myself down on the low end of the stick!)

Stephen Pampinella,

Michael,

"In general, this seems to be a similar argument to abortion-- based more on strongly held emotional views than on logic."

My view on abortion was transformed by an old Carl Sagan article, "Is it possible to be both pro-life and pro-choice." Dr. Sagan argued that it was, and he held such a view [1]. Since then I've been skeptical of emotional arguments on abortion.... and torture too, I guess.

Outside his bravery and honesty regarding the UFO he saw (no sarcasm), I see little to suggest Kucinich would be a good president.

[1] http://www.2think.org/abortion.shtml

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, January 04, 2008

"The most important moral issue of the 2008 campaign will be the murder of children -- that form of infanticide commonly called abortion."

Umm...I thought you were an abortion moderate in that you only were personally against third trimester abortion all the while thinking that abortion should be a state issue that the federal government shouldn't touch?

If you have had a charge of heart, I would like to know specifically what you have changed on your stance.

Also, I remember you referring to Obama at one time as just a Great Lakes Midwestern version of Edwards. That is, of course, a 180 of what you think of him now.

Also, can you define what anti-American means? I mean, I always thought that the Religious Right-Wing was rather anti-American in its own right given how they constantly lambaste this nations supposed moral depravity.

Of course, someone might say that such accusations from the Religious Right-Wing is simply constructive criticism, but I figured I would go by the Right-Wing's standard of what amounts to anti-Americanism (of that being any criticism towards American policy and/or culture) for their sake. ;)

Oh, and I figured I would leave you with a considerably "anti-American" quote.

"what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be minuscule if, in fact -- if, in fact -- God continues to lift the curtain and 'allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.'" -Jerry Falwell

http://www.actupny.org/YELL/falwell.html

Posted by: Jeffrey James | Sunday, January 06, 2008

"It strikes me that anti-torture advocates should decide whether they are arguing from technical (it does not work) or moral (it is fundamentally wrong) arguments. Because moral arguments have no place in a technical discussion, and technical argument distract from a moral one."

Well, the technical could argue for the moral not necessary on the basis of principle but rather that it is inherently unrealistic to maintain one's soft power by taking up a position of allowing torture. In other words, anti-torture policy can be a strategic asset in its own right while conducting the inevitable propaganda campaign that comes with war.

On the other hand, one could argue that a nation can maintain its soft power if torturous acts are not revealed to the public, but that is "if" they are not revealed to the public.

Posted by: Jeffrey James | Sunday, January 06, 2008

Jeffery,

A number of good points:

"Umm...I thought you were an abortion moderate in that you only were personally against third trimester abortion all the while thinking that abortion should be a state issue that the federal government shouldn't touch?"

I'm against infanticide. The traditional test for this has been the quickening [1], though presumably other tests for personhood could be designed, as well.

"Also, I remember you referring to Obama at one time as just a Great Lakes Midwestern version of Edwards. That is, of course, a 180 of what you think of him now."

It is a change. I don't agree with much of what he says, but he's appears more substantial now than he did then. Additionally, the Surge is helping him, by taking the heat of his Iraq position, and allowing him to adopt the Bush line in Afghanistan with minimum hassles.

"Also, can you define what anti-American means? I "

Sympathy for the defeat of the United States.

I assume this is often justified through calls for "more voices," "other voices," etc.

Wrt torture, the debate between anti-torture-advocates between arguing that we don't torture, but sometimes doing so and letting people believe we torture, when in fact we don't, would be interesting. I'd like to read it somewhere.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quickening

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, January 07, 2008

yes! this is what I have been wanting a shirt or bumper to say...in a way that doesn't confuse people.

I have always been inspired by Obama since learning about him, but I have been wild about McCain. Even though I have given him money, sought to convince people to vote for him, and even met him at a campaign event, I ended up voting for Huckabee because I could not in good conscience vote for someone supporting embryonic stem cell research, and I wanted to send a message about life issues, and possibly help a strong life candidate get the VP. I am praying for McCain to change his mind (again) on stem cells.

But McCain-Obama would be a great race and so refreshing for this country...if not a little painful to watch since they are both underdogs and at the same time heroes.

Posted by: Lauren | Wednesday, February 06, 2008

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