Friday, August 01, 2008

Tough questions for McCain and Obama

Ed Brayton gives a summary of Radley Balko's list of tough questions for the candidates. It's a pity that our mass media is unlikely to ask any of them. (Yet kudos to Fox News for publishing Radley Balko's columns asking them--they seem to be a whole lot better on the web than they are on television.) Brayton quotes the questions for McCain about how serious he is about cutting corporate pork when he personally profits from it (the laws that mandate alcohol be sold through distributors like Hensley & Co, where his wife got her fortune) and how he reconciles his support for the drug war with the fact that his wife was permitted to avoid any criminal penalties for her prescription drug problems. For Obama, he selected as favorites how Obama plans to pay for his proposed civilian national security force, how he reconciles his support for the drug war with his own past use of marijuana and cocaine, and why he supported the farm bill and supports ethanol subsidies.

I think Ed clearly picked out the best questions Balko asked of McCain, but here are a couple other questions for Obama that I particularly liked:
In a speech to Cuban-Americans in Miami, you called the Cuban trade embargo "an important inducement for change," a 180-degree shift from your prior position. The trade embargo has been in place for 46 years. Did denying an entire generation of Cubans access to American goods, culture, and ideas induce any actual change? Wasn't the real effect just to keep Cubans poor and isolated? In communist countries like Vietnam and China, trade with the U.S. has ushered in economic reform, and vastly improved the standard of living. Why wouldn't it be the same if we were to start trading with Cuba?

In addition to the drugs, Cuba, and school voucher issues, you have also changed or revised your position in recent months on the war in Iraq, government eavesdropping and immunity for the telecom companies, and holding employers accountable for hiring illegal immigrants. Under some circumstances, changing or revising one's position can show admirable introspection — the ability to revise prior conceptions with new information. Some of your new positions are more conservative. Some are more liberal. But they do seem to have one thing in common: Should we be concerned that your shifts have been to those positions that give more power and influence to government? Are there any areas where you'd actually roll back the federal government?
Balko asked a question of McCain about the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA, also known as McCain-Feingold), which I think did serious damage to the First Amendment and protects incumbent politicians by prohibiting any corporation (including nonprofits) or by an unincorporated entity using any corporate funds from running ads critical or supportive of a candidate within 30 days of a primary or within 60 days of a general election. I agree McCain should be asked tough questions about his apparent disrespect for political speech, but I didn't particularly care for the specific question Balko came up with.


Ktisophilos said...

Good, common sense on ethanol, a ridiculous fuel. It is already partially oxidized, extremely hygroscopic, and ordinary distillation will always leave 4% water (i.e. there is a 96-4 azeotrope). If it's so great, lets see them produce it without subsidies coerced from taxpayers, and crass mandated fuel compositions.

BTW, to most of the world, 8-1-2008 means 8 January: i.e. they use the sensible ordering of time units in increasing size of day, month, year.

Jim Lippard said...

I agree with the rest of the world's preference for ISO date formats... my usual date format on a letter is "dd Mmmmmmm yyyy" for that same reason. I'll have to see if there's an easy way to use a different ISO format with this blog template. I chose one that gave both date and time on posts and comments, since I dislike seeing blog comments that only have a time and no date.

Jim Lippard said...

No such luck--the only comment format with both date and time is mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm.