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The Loyal Opposition
2008-11-03 09:55
by Will Carroll
Notes:
Scott Long is now blogging at NSFWsports.com.
Will Carroll can still be found at Baseball Prospectus.

I voted for Barack Obama.

That comes as no surprise to those who remember my staunch anti-Bush attacks of the last five years -- five?! -- at this blog. But where I worked for Kerry's victory in 2004, all along much more of a vote against than a vote for, I could never quite bring myself to believe in Obama's brand of hope. Sure, I wanted to believe, but I never did. In fact, it was John McCain who held me back.

Not that I could vote for McCain, a near-criminal and at the very least a co-conspirator in the ineffective Congress of the last two decades, a man who's best qualification was failure. Being shot down is no resume line and McCain is no more (or less) deserving than, say, Admiral James Stockdale, another former Vietnam era POW but who was roundly seen as undeserving even as a Vice-President. On this fact, any of the nearly 600 Vietnam-held Prisoners* are as qualified. McCain, of course, ran on his record in the Senate (undistinguished compared to others) and his wife's money, which is what got him to the Senate in the first place.

(Off topic here, but did anyone notice Cindy McCain wearing a "Navy Wife" brooch during her appearance on Saturday Night Live? I doubt Carol McCain felt good about that.)

So if my vote is once again more a tick of "against" than "for," it leaves me at a political crossroads. While my hope is that Obama will become the President and leader everyone so fervently hopes he will be - and there's that word again - I have no real basis for that hope beyond promises. I am brought back to my Christian school education and reminded to build my home on rock, not sand. (Matthew 7:24-27.)

So what am I for? What is my political rock? If I am not for many of Obama's policies and goals, it leaves me with one choice and that is to articulate myself as the loyal opposition. America's style of republicanism (form, not party) doesn't allow for this, but it is something that has strengthened them. If you've never watched the Prime Minister's question time on C-SPAN, imagine any recent President standing to question, then ask why we don't have a similar function. Yes, the press might, but doesn't.

As we elect a President tomorrow, it's time for all of us to become strong soldiers for his cause or to be in the best sense of the words, the loyal opposition. Over the next few months, as Obama or McCain establishes his government, I'll be establishing the principles by which I will stand. I hope you'll join me in examining the important issues of the day, one by one.

* Yes, I acknowledge discrepancies with the numbers, but let's not get into that here.

Comments
2008-11-03 11:23:26
1.   Scott Long
While I am not as negative on McCain as Will is, put me in the same camp of lukewarm Obama voters. I rarely run into someone who voted for Obama that feels way, so it's refreshing that I happen to share a blog with that person.

The thing that energizes me more about tomorrow than anything is that they are far better than the choices we had in 2004.
2008-11-03 11:38:58
2.   JoeyP
Anyone that votes for Obama doesnt realize how left he is.

A vote for Obama is a vote for socialism.
A vote for McCain is like a vote for Bill Clinton.

You decide.

2008-11-03 11:40:18
3.   kirbyk
As a strong Obama supporter (I read his book, agree with him on most policies, and really support his intellecual integrity), I'm really happy to have people like you out there.

Political discussion in this country seems to be almost entirely people yelling at each other and not listening. I don't argue much with the Internet People, because they don't care to have their facts checked, they aren't open to the idea that the other side are good people with different preconceptions, and can't abide the fact that the other side is right on at least 30% of things. Bah.

I'm wrong about 30% of things, at least. I don't know which ones. I'm grateful when I read an argument that challenges my assumptions without attack. It's rare.

Few things would make me happier than a return of civil discourse to American politics, from the capital and White House to the water cooler.

This seems to be Obama's temperment, as well. He devotes a lot of his book to talking about Reagan, and a lot of that to what Reagan got right. (And some to where he disagrees with Reagan.) If you're a Democrat that can't find that Reagan did some necessary work for the country, if you're a Republican that can't find the same about Clinton - really, stop. Pull back from the abyss. You're listening to the crazy voices too much.

We're going to disagree about some things, but if we can avoid being disagreeable, there are a lot of things people agree on that get lost in the shuffle.

We're really not a country of knee-jerk reactions, are we? Really? Do we have to be?

2008-11-03 12:30:12
4.   chris in illinois
*From Miriam Webster:
so·cial·ism:
Pronunciation:
\ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\
Function:
noun
Date:
1837

1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

So Barack Obama wants the government to takes ownership of what, McDonald's? It's seemed pretty weird to me that 'socialist' was dragged out of the insult box, what's next, he's really a 'Tory'?

3 Well said.

2008-11-03 12:45:57
5.   das411
Hmm...Will Carroll today: "If you've never watched the Prime Minister's question time on C-SPAN, imagine any recent President standing to question, then ask why we don't have a similar function."

"I will ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions, and address criticism, much the same as the prime minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons." - One of our two candidates in MAY...I wonder which one...

http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1517615720080515

2008-11-03 12:50:05
6.   JoeyP
Some banks have already been socialized and that was done by a republican president with a democratic congress passing legislation. Think of the other things that could follow with a democratic president. Nationalized health care anyone?

In addition, is not wealth redistribution a fundamental principle of Marxist thought that goes completely against the history of the US system, a system that has allowed itself to be the #1 superpower in the world?

Does not Obama advocate wealth redistribution? How else would you explain raising taxes on those that already pay the highest rate, and giving that money (directly in the form of a check), to those that do not even pay taxes in the first place?

2008-11-03 12:59:37
7.   Andrew Shimmin
I don't know if this is one of those situations where the accent blinds me, but I've watched PM Question Time and I get the feeling that their legislators are not as dumb as ours. It wouldn't be like that. It would be like any other congressional committee hearing, except worse because there'd be an audience.

Maybe someday we'll have congressmen who aren't completely worthless, but until then, I don't think we should give them any new outlets for being on television. Unless they want to play celebrity cricket.

2008-11-03 13:49:48
8.   Will Carroll
5 - I was disappointed to see that not get traction. I actually don't think it's legal, but I still thought it was a positive that it was even mentioned. The difference is that we're a republican system rather than parliamentary, where, in essence, the head of the majority party is the leader of government. It'd be like electing Nancy Pelosi, but we'd take the position much more seriously.

7 - Wouldn't seeing them be stupid give us more reason to vote in better ones? I don't think they're stupid, honestly, but just part of the system we've allowed to happen.

Socialism - I'm no Marxist, but I see some value in certain socialist policies. I don't think any of the candidates really advocates socialism; it's just a nice buzz word for negative campaigning, like "patriotism" that they've given a Rovian definition.

2008-11-03 14:00:05
9.   Andrew Shimmin
It's possible I've got a sampling error built in, since I usually only watch the hearings on stuff I know anything about, but the level of ignorance displayed can be really amazing. Not the same as stupidity, but being as ignorant as many congressmen are willing to be about basic information required to do their jobs is a pretty fair indication that stupidity may be a big problem in the congress. Committee assignments are a big deal, too; they fight and claw over the big ones.

They tend to be very good at doing their hair, though, I notice. Way better than I am. So, they've got that going for them.

2008-11-03 14:10:03
10.   Humma Kavula
I could be wrong about what I'm about to say, but:

I once heard a friend from the UK say that Question Time really wasn't all it was cracked up to be. As Shimmin suggests but doesn't say outright, my friend said it was more of a way for backbenchers to score cheap political points by putting the PM on the spot.

I'm not an expert at Question Time, so (a) maybe that's not true, or (b) maybe it's not a fair criticism, or (c) maybe that happens but generally the good outweighs the bad. But I fear it's what would happen here: it would be cheap.

2008-11-03 14:27:44
11.   Andrew Shimmin
10- It's not the Algonquin round table but it is funny and nasty, which I enjoy very much. US legislators are better at being smarmy and prissy. Maybe if it weren't just the President vs. the congressmen, maybe there could be a cousin Oliver that would turn it into something. Like a swarm of bees.

I'm starting to come around, I think. . .

2008-11-03 14:36:40
12.   Scott Long
JoeyP, I would love to get some more background on you. It would help me better understand how you come up with some of your opinions.

Let me begin with the Clinton/McCain comparison. I like both of them, but they are not very close politically on numerous issues. If McCain was 90% like Clinton (voting wise), I would have voted for him. Instead, though, he was with Bush 90% of the time.

The health care issue has to be taken care of. I would ask you if you have a family and if you work for a company that takes care of your health insurance. I'm a private contractor, so I have to pay for my family's health insurance. I have shitty insurance and it will now be over a 1000 dollars a month to just make sure I can cover some issues. (My taxes show that I have spent over $30,0000 dollars on health care in 2008.) It is killing my family. I have went through my savings to take care of things, but it is over at this point. I don't want to go any farther into my personal biz and I'm not expecting any special treatment, but we need some type of program that allows people who don't want to go on welfare to be put into some type of fair group insurance. Even Mitt Romney understood this. Anyone who has ever dealt with private insurance understands this.

2008-11-03 15:35:59
13.   Xeifrank
If I voted based on how well they gave speeches, I'd vote for Obama too. If I voted on who I believe has more substance, associates with better people, or is closer to me on the issues I wouldn't. That being said Obama's win expectancy is currently 79.3%, of course that could all change if Obama goes to the pen too late.
vr, Xei
2008-11-03 16:33:14
14.   Andrew Shimmin
Nate Silver has Obama's WE at 98.1%.
2008-11-03 17:06:28
15.   Xeifrank
14. Is he using empircal data?
vr, Xei
2008-11-03 17:06:58
16.   Chiron Brown
6 And yet the GOP has spent eight years redistributing wealth from the public to the private sector, which is nice if you're Haliburton. Their last act is to transfer debt from the private to the public sector. I'll vote for Lenin before I vote for another Republican.

And socialism has existed in this country for a long time. Whether it's the personal income tax or Alaska's public ownership of natural resources. Check your kitchen drawers. There's a good chance you have some Oneida silverware. It's one of the biggest silverware companies in the world and it started in the 1850's as a Christian commune long before communism became a dirty word.

2008-11-03 17:14:36
17.   Andrew Shimmin
15- Polling data, so, not really. And since this is the first year he's been running his numbers, he doesn't have a track record, either. But I'll be hornswaggled if I don't implicitly trust the man behind PECOTA.

The last Intrade deal on Obama shares was 91 (90.6 this morning). Intrade beat most of the polls, last cycle, IIRC.

2008-11-03 17:15:38
18.   Andrew Shimmin
He's got an overview of his methodology here: http://tinyurl.com/6f34gz
2008-11-03 18:34:25
19.   ToyCannon
17
Nate has quite the geeky/nerd/dork look going on when I've seen him interviewed. He needs a TV stand in, someone like you who can look polished, and confident, while still wearing a pocket protector.
2008-11-03 20:07:39
20.   Andrew Shimmin
19- He'd be fine if he'd just start smoking. That's the key to my look.
2008-11-04 06:48:34
21.   jgpyke
WC,

For a moment there, I thought you were onto something when you quoted Matthew 7. But then it seems like you went back to building your house on sinking sand. For me, the rock is the Eternal, not the filthy rags of self-righteousness from the earthly fraud of politics.

I think liberals/progressives are just far more political overall. It tends to seep into everything. Then again, where I work probably influences that perception.

2008-11-04 10:09:16
22.   Will Carroll
Holy crap, Pyke, Jesus was a revolutionary, if you'll remember. An apocalyptic preacher from the backwater of Galilee, his words of compassion go ignored by most Evangelicals. Granted, the "cast the first stone" story was a midieval tack-on, but I'd suggest that no one's policies pass the "least of me" test. Now, go render unto Caesar.

Jesus' sand metaphor was one pointed to his apocalyptic message of a coming end of the earth. A real one, not a metaphorical one. I think we can re-use the metaphor safely.

2008-11-04 10:30:53
23.   misterjohnny
If only we had a "loyal Opposition" in this country. We have bloggers like you calling the presidential candidate a "near-criminal". Is he a criminal? If you are referring to Keating, not even close.

There are substantive differences between Obama and McCain policies. Obama is left. And while people quote "McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time", that is mostly democrat talking points. McCain is more center-right (which is why I didn't want him to get the nomination).

But it is a moot point now. We are very likely getting an Obama Presidency with a filibuster proof Senate and Congress led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. We will now see what left wing liberalism does for the country.

My opinion is that the economic policies of the left are bad for our economy, others may disagree. Unfortunately, if I am right, four years from now all we will hear is it was Bush's fault, it takes more time to recover, and liberals need to be reelected.

Perhaps this is a good thing, like Kerry not being elected four years ago for Scott. Eight years from now, we may see that the economic policies of income redistribution, strengthening the power of unions, et al, are the wrong policies for economic growth and job generation.

2008-11-04 13:36:04
24.   Will Carroll
23 - I am referring to Keating and "criminal" isnt the right word, but "scandal-ridden" isn't the right either. I went with "near-criminal" for effect. I think it's very close, since it cost several their careers.

Did you READ my post? I'm sick of hearing talking points like you're quoting and want facts, facts, facts.

2008-11-04 15:18:26
25.   jgpyke
22 I have a much less secular reading of Jesus' words in Matthew. He is nothing less than the Son of God, not some mere preacher. He said so Himself.

His words of compassion go ignored by most Evangelicals

The cartoon version of evangelicals one sees on MSNBC or Bill Maher, perhaps....but "most"? The data don't support that. Look at charitable giving. It is well documented that the least charitable are liberals and seculars, as groups. Lowest with volunteering, too.

http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/3447051.html
http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v19/i04/04001101.htm
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Really-Cares-Compasionate-Conservatism/dp/0465008216
http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/103443

So enough with the libel already. Liberals are the miserly ones, by and large. They prefer the state as the agent of forced compassion via confiscation of wealth to give to the poor instead of letting us do it on our own. Look no further than Joe Biden's tax return. (Or your own, methinks.)

2008-11-04 16:26:09
26.   misterjohnny
Fact: "Senators John Glenn and John McCain were cleared of having acted improperly but were criticized for having exercised "poor judgment". per wiki

Is that "near criminal" in your definition???

He had a meeting with Keating, didn't intervene on behalf of Keating, unlike the other three. Is that more of than a talking point?

Your statement: "at the very least a co-conspirator in the ineffective Congress of the last two decades" where are the facts there? That's just a rant.

Here's a fact. Barack Obama is #2 in receiving campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.
http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/09/update-fannie-mae-and-freddie.html
Here's another fact. In 2005 John McCain and others tried to put some controls on Fannie Mae. They were thwarted. Where was Obama? In May of 2006 McCain spoke before the Senate on the bill. Still no support from Obama.

What other "talking points" did I mention should be fleshed out? Do you want me to point out how far left Obama is? National Journal rated him as the most liberal Senator in 2007. In other years he has been 10th and 16th. I don't know if he is 1st or 16th, but I would bet that he's somewhere in there. That is left wing.

Here is a political blogger from the washington post regarding mccain (i can't access the source data):"By contrast, McCain continues a trend in recent years of moderation, or at least that is what the selected votes reflect. Taken by decade, McCain ranked as more conservative than more than 80 percent of the Senate in each of the years he served during the 1980s (1987-1989). During the 1990s, McCain broke 80 percent four times (1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994). Later in the decade, his score dipped considerably. He was at 68.3 percent in 1998 and 67.7 percent in 1999. This decade has seen even further slippage. McCain now ranks in the 50 percent range for the last three years, and four out of the last five years."
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2007/03/mirror_mirror_on_the_wall_whos.html

Are those enough facts for you?

2008-11-04 19:41:33
27.   jgpyke
It's moot now, but I gotta say, McCain's whole career has been one of beboppin' and scattin' all over the Republican party.
2008-11-05 17:49:53
28.   stevegoz
Bush may have come in as a social conservative, but he's leaving as a conservative socialist....
2008-11-05 19:56:43
29.   TFD
If a martian dropped in on this thread and tried to understand what you'all are discussing....well....he'd go back.

wtf???

will...

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