Saturday, July 26, 2008

Support for Obama: The Disloyal and the Stupid?

I saw a story picked up by the Associated Press yesterday. It was about a poor woman from Wisconsin, named Debra Bartoshevich, who lost her ticket to Denver. The story struck me as having some significance for my local community (Tazewell County, Va.) and the larger region of Central Appalachia...

The details are simple:
  1. Wisconsin has primary.
  2. Debra Bartoshevich becomes Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Wisconsin.
  3. Hillary drops out of race
  4. Bartoshevich gives interview to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and says that will support McCain.
  5. Wisconsin Democratic Party's administrative committee strips Bartoshevich of delegate credentials by a vote of 27-0 for violating the rule that says a delegate must support the party's nominee.

The primaries are over. I wasn't a huge fan of either Obama of Hillary. I voted for John Edwards. But the primaries are over.
  • I want a president who is opposed to tax advantages for the obscenely wealthy and who, instead, wants to rebalance the tax scale to help the middle class a little more. That's Obama, not McCain.
  • I want a president who's interested in comprehensive health insurance for all Americans regardless of employment or ability to pay. That's Obama, not McCain.
  • I want a president who can get us out of the costly and (in my view) pointless war in Iraq sooner, rather than later. That's Obama, not McCain
  • I want a president who might bring sanity back to public education compared to the insane demands of NCLB and its philosophy of "the beatings will continue until morale improves..." That's Obama, not McCain.
I could go on...

I've heard the petty grumbling. Grumblers have rights. Vote for whomever you like. Tell people how you feel and, by all means, put a sign in your yard. But for now, if it's a McCain sign you want to put in your yard, stop coming to Democratic Party meetings. Tell people that you used to be a Democrat.

Political parties are about goals and values. As far as I can see, McCain isn't interested in what Democrats value. Hillary probably won't be the first woman president - not this go 'round, at least. It's time to either get over it and line up, or get out!

McCain Has Succeeded in Making Health Care an Issue for Almost Everyone

It hasn't gotten much press yet, but I predict that it will. Candidate McCain has probably succeeded in making health care an issue for all Americans, even if they already have pretty good health insurance. Especially if they already have pretty good health insurance...

John McCain wants to turn your medical bills into taxable income if you get your health insurance through work.

I first heard about this aspect of the McCain health care proposal from Robert L. Borosage, courtesy of the Huffington Post. According to Borosage, the McCain solution on health care is to move America away from employer-provided health insurance and have each of us, individually, go to a private insurance company and negotiation our own health insurance package. To McCain, the results would be obvious:
  • The heavy burden of financing employee health care would be lifted from business - which would be good for "the economy" (by which McCain means big business).
  • Deductibles would be higher in the new privately insured America, and as a result people would be more cautious and selective in their health care demadns. No longer would we run to the doctor for every little cough or sniffle...
Sticks and Carrots

McCain's plan would offer you a tax credit if you had private health insurance - $2,500 per person or $5,000 per family. That's a credit, not a deduction. Reducing your federal taxes by $5,000 a year could be a powerful incentive - if you make enough to pay that in income tax. That's the carrot.

The stick is bigger. McCain want to take the dollar value of what your employer-based health insurance pays out for you in a year and count that as income. If you're one of those stubborn souls who kept your health insurance at work, consider this. If you make $35,000 as a teacher and on the way to work you're in a car wreck that results in a couple of weeks in the hospital, a surgery or two, and your employer-based health insurance footing a $40,000 bill for your medical expenses, your income just more than doubled because that $40,000 payout on your behalf would be taxable income under the McCain plan.

Oh, and since it shows up on your 1040 form, you'll likely end up paying state income tax on it, too.

Skeptical? I'm not horribly familiar with Robert L. Borosage myself, either. But then I figures out that the UMWA was telling its members much the same thing.

Health care used to be an issue for those didn't have it, or if you had loved ones who couldn't afford it. McCain has succeeded in making it an issue for everyone. If you didn't care before, you probably do now. And for what it's worth, as the son of a Navy admiral, a member of the armed forces himself, and the a member of Congress, McCain has had government sponsored health insurance almost every minute of his life...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The End of Black Wednesday

For the last 198 weeks I've tried to wear black on Wednesday. Black Wednesday is a ritual that I developed after the 2004 presidential election. The re-election of George Bush meant the continuation of No Child Left Behind - not that that is the only shortcoming of the current Bush Administration. NCLB has been a horrible thing for public education, in my opinion. And I believe that its accountability provisions are an unachievable, cynical attempt to eventually justify federal support for private school vouchers.

me, in blackI did okay with Black Wednesday. I wore brighter colors on the Wednesday after Democrat Tim Kaine won the governor's race in Virginia in 2005, and after the Democrats took back Congress in 2006. I missed it one day last year because I just plain lost track of the days of the week. And last month I forgot to back black clothes when we went to Myrtle Beach for a week. Otherwise, when I've gone out in public on a Wednesday over the last 45 months or so, it's been in black.

While NCLB is still technically alive, its heart was cut out recently when the Reading First program was cut to zero funding in next year's budget. That wasn't the place to start, in my opinion. But I think it signals the end of NCLB as we know it. And with the election season in full swing, so many issues are now around that I no longer see the point. So Black Wednesday is officially retired....

Obama in Berlin

Barack Obama addressed a crowd of over 200,000 people in Berlin's Tiergarten Park today. Watch the video...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Education Blog

While I talk some about education here, I should point out that my education blog (my other blog) has a new home and a new name - at

Constructivist Leanings (which is mirrored here because the original host looks like it will eventually disappear) has become The Green Cup.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

On John McCain and the Disappointing Dr. Dobson

It's all over the Blogosphere. Focus on the Family Founder Dr. James Dobson is reconsidering his position on GOP Presidential hopeful Senator John McCain.

meDobson founded Focus on the Family in 1977. The radio show and publishing house has become one of the leading voices for Evangelical Christianity and its political wing, the Religious Right. Back in primary season, Dr. Dobson wasn't very supportive of McCain. Politico sums it up like this:
Earlier, Dobson had said he could not in good conscience vote for McCain, citing the candidate's support for embryonic stem cell research and opposition to a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, as well as concerns about McCain's temper and foul language.
In a pre-recorded radio show that airs today, Dobson has opened the door for a flip-flop: "I never thought I would hear myself saying this... While I am not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there that I might."

It doesn't really surprise me (or even disappoint me, I suppose) that Dr. Dobson may endorse McCain. McCain is the GOP nominee. The Religious Right has hitched its wagon to the Republican star. What choices are there?

What does disappointment me is the shifting rationale for the two positions. Dr. Dobson couldn't vote for McCain a few months ago. It was a matter of conscience; he'd just stay home on election day. How could a true believer vote to make someone president with McCain's views on family issues? It was a matter of principal. But as the political waters have gotten deeper, the principals have floated away. Now it's just a practical issue. McCain is the lesser of two evils, and Dr. Dobson is likely to endorse one of the evils in hopes of avoiding the other.

It doesn't bother that Dr Dobson may endorse McCain. It bothers me that he took the original position and framed the discussion as a moral and religious choice to start with. It bothers me because it seemed sincere at the time, and now it just seems hypocritical...