How I can still vote for Obama.

“C” left a comment in another thread the other night asking how I can still vote for Obama after, among other things, his recent FISA vote. My short reply at the time was that he was still better than the alternatives. C went on to send me an email asking:

i understand the whole voting for the lesser of two evils thing, but he voted against the constitution! he will make laws against separation of church and state. he says he’ll pull us out of iraq but he’s done nothing to show us that (in fact, he continues to fund the war effort with billions of dollars).

it isn’t voting for the leeser of two evils, it’s voting for one evil that happens to give better speeches than another evil.

how anybody can vote for a person that makes unconstitutional laws…i just don’t understand it.

Obama didn’t vote against the Constitution, though the FISA bill may very well be unconstitutional. We should find out fairly quickly as the ACLU has already filed suit to try and stop the law. Still that doesn’t change the fact that I was very disappointed by Obama voting for it, but it’s not like I’ve not disagreed with Presidents I’ve voted for in the past. Bill Clinton signed a couple of laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, which I completely disagreed with and felt were a violation of Church and State, but he was still a decent enough President in my mind that I’d have voted for a third term had it been possible to do so. The number of issues I find myself in agreement with Obama on more than makes up for the ones I disagree with him on.

As for pulling us out of Iraq, Obama recently wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times in which he lays out his plan for ending the war in Iraq:

As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.

Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but that sounds pretty good to me. We’ve left Afghanistan as unfinished business while we were dicking around looking for non-existent WoMDs in Iraq and we’re starting to pay the price for it.

Your second paragraph implies that there’s no real difference between the two candidates in which case I can only assume you haven’t been paying attention. Go to their websites and read up on what their stances on issues and plans for the future are. You’ll see there’s quite a bit of difference. It can be hard to distinguish how McCain would be anything other than a continuation of the Bush Administration which has done such a fine job of screwing this country up so far. That is assuming that McCain isn’t just paying lip service to the Far Right and plans to go back to being the maverick he used to be once he lands the White House. That would be an improvement over how he’s presenting himself now, but not only is that a risky assumption to count on it’s also still not as good as the change in direction that Obama appears to be offering. By the same token it’s always possible Obama is selling us a bill of goods as well, but I think it’s less likely in his case.

How I can vote someone who “makes unconstitutional laws” isn’t hard to understand. People, including Presidential candidates, are human and they make mistakes. You have to look at more than just the one issue and consider the package as a whole. That’s part of why I’m not much for Ron Paul. He had some appealing aspects in his policy stances and then he has some that were way the fuck out in left field. The number of attractive stances he held were outweighed by the crazy he brought with him. When I look at McCain and Obama and the complete packages they bring with them I find that I’m still leaning very heavily towards Obama even if I’m not happy with every single choice he makes.

Obama says he will expand Bush’s “Faith-Based” initiatives.

Somehow I had a feeling Obama was too good to be true. There had to be something about him that was eventually going to disappoint me. And now I know what it is:

CHICAGO – Reaching out to religious voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand President Bush’s program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and — in a move sure to cause controversy — support some ability to hire and fire based on faith.

[…] Obama does not support requiring religious tests for recipients of aid nor using federal money to proselytize, according to a campaign fact sheet. He also only supports letting religious institutions hire and fire based on faith in the non-taxypayer funded portions of their activities, said a senior adviser to the campaign, who spoke on condition of anonymity to more freely describe the new policy.

I suppose so long as he’s including more than just the Right Wing Nutsacks Evangelicals in handing out government money that’d be at least somewhat of an improvement over Bush’s plan, but I’ll believe it when I see Muslims or, even better, Wiccans getting a grant. The Right Wingers, of course, are going to have a hissy fit when they’re suddenly no longer the only ones sucking on the taxpayer teat. Expanding the program, however, is not the ideal solution:

Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, criticized Obama’s proposed expansion of a program he said has undermined civil rights and civil liberties.

“I am disappointed that any presidential candidate would want to continue a failed policy of the Bush administration,” he said. “It ought to be shut down, not continued.”

Agreed. The government has no business being involved with the funding of religious organizations of any kind. Looks like it will continue to do so, however, even if the Republicans aren’t in control.

Pussification of House Democrats hits all time high.

Someone explain to me what we accomplished in giving the Democrats control of both halves of Congress back in 2006? Because so far I’m not seeing them do much of jack shit with it. Not only have they not brought the troops home, but the House just passed a bill giving the telephone companies immunity on illegal wiretapping:

WASHINGTON – The House Friday easily approved a compromise bill setting new electronic surveillance rules that effectively shield telecommunications companies from lawsuits arising from the government’s terrorism-era warrantless eavesdropping on phone and computer lines in this country.

The bill, which was passed on a 293-129 vote, does more than just protect the telecoms. The update to the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is an attempt to balance privacy rights with the government’s responsibility to protect the country against attack, taking into account changes in telecommunications technologies.

Opponents of immunity believe civil lawsuits are the only way the full extent of the wiretapping program will ever be revealed.

Key senators voiced strong opposition to the compromise, although they’re unlikely to have the votes to either defeat or filibuster the bill. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, condemned the immunity deal. He said that nothing in the new bill would prevent the government from once again wiretapping domestic phone and computer lines without court permission.

Specter said the problem is constitutional: The White House may still assert that the president’s Article II powers as commander in chief supersede statutes that would limit him actions.

“Only the courts can decide that issue and this proposal dodges it,” Specter said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California disputed that, saying FISA would from now on be the authority for the government to conduct electronic surveillance.

“There is no inherent authority of the president to do whatever he wants. This is a democracy, not a monarchy,” she said.

Someone please explain to me how it’s a Republican that’s criticizing this compromise while a Democratic leader is supporting it. What the fuck is this? Opposites day? Supposedly FISA was the authority before this bill came along and yet the Bush Administration got away with ignoring the FISA court altogether. What’s to stop that from happening again?

Most annoying of all is the fact that Senator Obama voted for this so-called compromise. I am, much like the ACLU, outraged over how the Democrats are bending over and smiling while Bush rams it up their collective asses. With a bunch of spineless pussies like this in power it won’t matter if the Democrats win the White House.

Obama’s middle class tax cut plan three times the amount of McCain’s.

Another entry in the continuing saga of Why I’m Voting for Obama:

Nashuatelegraph.com: Analysts say Obama offers three times the tax break for middle class

CONCORD – The tax cut plan of Democratic nominee to be Barack Obama offers three times the break for middle class families than proposals of likely Republican nominee John McCain, according to analysts working for a left-leaning think tank.

Families making between $37,595 and $66,354 of annual income with Obama would get an average tax cut of $1,042 per family while McCain’s tax cut for this group would be $319, the report states.

“The choice in November for tax policy may be the largest voters have ever had in this country,” said Jason Furman, director of economic policy for Barack Obama’s campaign.

“John McCain’s tax cut is far larger, more regressive and far more radical than anything President George W. Bush has ever proposed. Barack Obama is proposing one of the largest income tax cuts for the middle class in American history.”

I think the rich folks got enough tax breaks under Bush. Time for the middle class to get a few breaks. Of course the McCain campaign is trying their best to rain on Obama’s parade:

“Barack Obama voted 94 times to raise taxes in just three years in the Senate. Any suggestion that he’ll lower taxes for hard-working New Hampshire families is an insult to their intelligence,” said Jeff Grappone, McCain’s New England communications director.

“Facts are facts. Barack Obama has promised higher income taxes, Social Security taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes and tax hikes on small businesses. These tax hikes will hit middle class Americans and seniors hardest, and it’s change we can’t afford.”

I have no doubts that some taxes will go up, most likely as a result of letting the Bush tax cuts expire, but the fact remains that McCain’s plan is aimed squarely at the folks who need the help the least. It’s just the same failed economic policies of the current administration all over again. What’s amazing to me is the fact that back in 2001 McCain decried the Bush tax cuts saying: ”“I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.” So why is he proposing a plan that’s even worse than the one he complained about back in 2001?

Here’s some more on the differences between the two plans:

Once fully implemented, the report finds 23 percent of McCain’s tax cut goes to the wealthiest Americans making more than $2.8 million a year.

McCain’s plan give this group an average tax cut of $270,000, the report said. By contrast, Obama would raise taxes for these wealthy families by an average $700,000 a year according to the report.

Obama pays for his plan in part by raising the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 25 percent. McCain eventually sets those rates to be no higher than 15 percent.

The individual authors of this 36-page report work for the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

[…] The report contends that the total cost of McCain’s plan is under-estimated by phasing it in and having some breaks already schedule to expire in future years. “Like President Bush’s tax cuts, the true cost of McCain’s policies may be masked by phase-ins and sunsets (scheduled expiration dates) that reduce the estimate costs,” the report states.

It also contends both candidates overestimate revenue they would get from closing corporate tax loopholes.

“As noted, both candidates may be over-optimistic in their revenue targets for tax loopholes closers – Obama probably more than McCain,” it states. McCain also fails to identify enough cuts in federal spending to help pay for his plan, the report concludes.

I’ll update this entry later if I can track down a link to the full report.

Barack Obama on the Christian Nation myth.

This is why I’m voting for Obama and not McCain:

Blatantly stolen from DOF who found it first.

I must write about John McCain a lot.

I just got done putting up a badge for Barack Obama in the sidebar because that’s who I’ll be voting for come this fall. When I checked to see if it was showing up properly I noticed that the Google ad further down was a flash ad for John McCain. It’s been showing up a lot on various SEB pages as of late to the extent that you’d almost think I was endorsing him, which is part of why I put up the Obama badge.

I haven’t checked into if it’s possible to tell Google’s AdSense that you don’t want certain ads to be displayed on your site, but I might look into it given the frequency that the McCain ad shows up. Hilariously it shows up most often on pages where I’m bitching about what a hypocritical sell out he is.

Obama’s speech on a “More Perfect Union.”

I was going to write about the speech that Obama gave yesterday on the recent hubbub about remarks made by his church’s pastor, but ***Dave said everything I was going to say so I’ll just point to his entry and add a “what he said” to it. If you haven’t seen it yourself then the following video is worth watching:

I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t too sure about Obama back when he first entered into the race, but as time has gone on he has continuously impressed me with his stance on the issues and the speeches he’s been giving. Plus the fact that it would piss Moloch off to no end to have a black man as President makes voting for him very attractive indeed.